I spent a lot of my play time thinking and a lot of my thinking time wondering, where did the silence I was feeling come from? Even after a month of pondering, I’m still not sure I know. I cannot remember a time when words hadn’t been there to save me when I wasn’t strong enough to save myself so this silence, this utter inability to put words to the page frightened me, as though a part of me had died, but was still trapped inside. I’ve always been a rule follower. I like to know the expectations the world has for me so I can meet and exceed them. But I never thought about the expectations I should have (if any) for myself.
Women, mothers, daughters – so many of us are conditioned to take care of the rest of the world before we take care of ourselves. A month of play seemed totally selfish, decadent, frivolous and at times, just plain crazy. Much of the first week I wandered around the house not doing anything except to pause every so often to slap some paint on the page or watch an art video. I picked things up and put them down again. I didn’t know how to be still, how to be in the moment, how to let my mind and body tell me what it needed me to hear.
I have always had an overwhelming need for silence. It’s the introvert in me. But this was more than usual. I craved intense and immense silence. I watched the art videos with the sound off. I couldn’t listen to music. And when I painted in those ten minute blocks I was thinking about nothing but paint on the paper. Blue on white. Yellow on blue. Scrape. Scratch. Twirl. The brush on the paper was the only sound I heard.
I soon learned that to paint you have to be in the moment. Paint dries too fast for you to do anything else. I don’t know how many books I’ve read on how to quiet your mind or how to learn to be more Zen but none of those lessons ever had the effect on me that paint on paper did. Paint. Here. Now.
How dare I
spend my day mixing multitudes of blues
which becomes the ocean’s murky depths
and which reflects the simple summer sky?
How dare I not?
Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.
Kidlitosphere Central has the master list of all the poetic events going on this month.