Just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking of you. I have. But since January I’ve been caught up in a big new project and I hadn’t quite figured out how to tell you about it.
The right metaphor occurred to me this afternoon as I was playing in the yard de-thatching. (Some would call it work, but I love to de-thatch.)
And that’s exactly it — I’ve been de-thatching my psyche.
What a nice noun: psyche |ˈsīkē| the human soul, mind, or spirit; from Greek psukhē ‘breath, life, soul.’ Sigh. And what a complicated, messy place it can become after 50 years or so.
My father’s death just before Christmas fractured the mask of forced cheeriness that I’ve sheltered behind for years.
If you’ve stopped by the blog before you’ll recall that 2011 was a year of treatments and surgeries for rectal cancer. 2012 was a year of physical recuperation. 2013 thus far has been devoted to psychic recuperation.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Depression. Insomnia. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Yuk.
Re-claiming my life from the above has become a fulltime job. Physical therapy with an emphasis on myofascial release/unwinding; psychotherapy with an emphasis on the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) modality; exercise — pilates, yoga, gyrokenisis and I’m riding and running again; meditation; dietary changes based on ayurvedic principles (just starting this).
And — visual journaling. It ties all of the above together. And more.
I started in late January and have created nearly twenty mixed media spreads, filling one book and then making and starting another. Each spread is a combination of writing, painting and collage. Some spreads are based on prompts from a mentor or a therapist, some are based on dreams. Others, well, they just demand to be done.
This is the first spread I started on January 21 (it’s still not finished, and that’s the beauty of the process, time is as important a tool as pen or paint).
This form of expression and exploration is raw. Messy. Not for the faint of heart be you artist or viewer.
Will I be sharing more images? Perhaps. This is a deeply personal and powerful process. But I’ve discovered that sharing the images in a safe, respectful environment and receiving feedback helps rake out yet more of that tightly knotted psychic matter.
And that’s what made me think of de-thatching. The heavy rake with those knife-like tine/blades is actually a finesse tool. It’s most effective when used gently on the lawn, small little strokes, repeated time and again, bringing up masses of dead grass that you just don’t see at a glance.
At a glance my front lawn looked just fine. Normal. Green, pretty even. But an accumulation of grass clippings becomes detrimental — a barrier to light, water and air. The lawn barely gets by, slowly dying off. But when I invest the time and energy to de-thatch… air, light, water and nutrients reach the roots of the grasses. They thrive.
Is this too much of a stretch as a metaphor? No. Unprocessed memories and emotions form dense layers of decaying material which deny a soul the nourishment it needs to grow and thrive. I’ll be raking for quite a while… So when it is quiet around here, you know that hard work is being done. Slowly, steadily starting to thrive again.
PS — work on new sculpture also continues, and I’ve just begun fine tuning the master resin for Vata — he’ll soon be available to order 🙂