Roads Abandoned

While reading a book review by Jodi Delong, a writer I admire and enjoy reading, her blog here, I began mentally following the pathway it presented. The book reviewed was one that I’d love to purchase, How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook.It is what I’d call a “helper book”, one that guides the reader in developing skills to accomplish a specific goal. In this case, keeping a nature journal utilizing drawing and painting in a literary and artistic record.

At the beginning of the review Jodi Delong says, “It is one of the great griefs of my life that I am unable to draw or paint.” And that started me considering not only one of the regrets of my life, but wondering why I continue it. You see, I can both draw and paint, and at one time was considered quite talented at it. The note of regret surfaces in the phrase,”at one time”. I long ago abandoned this pursuit that is very fulfilling to me, always intending at some point to again take up the occupation of transferring the alchemy of thought, sight, and expression which is the act of drawing and painting. Always, but not quite, returning to the intention. I have even gone so far as to accumulate art supplies. But they remain untouched.

The reasons for abandoning, and then remaining alienated, from this early love and once cultivated talent are several and personal, but add up to something I think might be common to others. That is the blockade formed within me, which has successfully hindered every effort thus far, every New Year resolution, every willful intention that I have had in reintroducing the creation of this form of art back into my life. I have found other routes to express my creativity, gardening was one, this new found effort at intentional writing that forms the blogposts found online, a somewhat forced entry into digital photography, but none give me the peaceful employment of my desire to create that drawing and painting once did.

It is only today that I am giving careful thought to this nonsensical phenomenon. Some of the reasons to continue to hesitate are, of course, the obvious. There is always a sort of fear in accomplishment and creating. There is a particular type of fear that follows a certain degree of mastery: “what if I cannot regain my technical ability, that time and neglect have atrophied?” After all, in my case, the unforeseen assault upon my visual acuity and eye health has given a hollow mocking haunting to my old ideas of resuming my art in a Grandma Moses sort of way…. after raising my large family, after taking care of my (grandma/ dad/ mom’s) needs for my time over a sequence of years, after getting the housework done (that speaks volumes right there, doesn’t it?), and on…

But now as my life wanes in the denouement of the final acts of the half century mark, I must take into account… what really kept me from creating the art, carving out the creative time, giving priority to fulfilling the dreams?

I wonder if there isn’t some involvement of the “toxic thoughts” as Dr. Caroline Leaf spoke of in an interview about her book, Switch On Your Brain (The Switch On Your Brain 5-Step Learning Process (DVD/Workbook) (Learn How to Learn)

The reason I suspect that there is something more “blockading” me than the simple reasons and excuses I have presumed to be at fault is the fact that when the barriers are removed …my children grow up, I have more time for creative activities, I have the supplies ready to use… what remains is simply the block. So that I almost tell myself that I no longer have this type of expression, and doubt whether I had it to begin with, so long has it been dormant. Did it exist or was it only imagined? Perhaps, too, I am thinking in this direction because I have seen the presence of these toxic sort of thoughts at work in other parts of my life.

So far, I have cycled through some of the defensive ways of healing from these mental blights. I have read self-help books addressing various factors rooted in some of the same causes; I have distanced myself from as many of the people who continue to trigger some of these toxic thoughts and views as is reasonably possible; I have changed my behaviors and responses. But still I have found a stubborn residual barrier to healthy expression of my life and the fulfillment of the potential that is my contribution to the social tapestry of our lives. What I am yet able to give- for we all have something good to contribute to the stream of life and history.

This has expressed itself not only in the fact that I am having difficulty developing my abilities in contributing to the work I produce, but in taking care of myself… making necessary health changes, going to doctors, and many other seemingly normal and necessary actions.

I am hoping to find my way back to some of these roads, and cut away the overgrown briars in this late autumn period of my life. Does the rose bloom in winter? I hope it does, and I hope to see it come to this, in my own life’s garden.