The Soul Knows Its Way Home

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.”
~Fridrich Nietzsche

And it’s true.

Somewhere inside the howling hell that was my broken mind and shattered heart, my battered soul sent up a distress call. As my soul sang my pain and my love and my grief to a listening Universe, something came to answer the cry, to offer solace and comfort and healing. Something came to help fill the empty spaces, the places he left behind.

White Birds, Detail

White Birds, Detail

Art. Art came to my rescue.

I was always a haphazard practitioner before. I’d have a crisis of confidence, or get utterly wrapped up in my love life, using almost any excuse to avoid the stuttering anxiety of perfection’s pursuit. I never felt like I was quite good enough, because I couldn’t do whatever I wanted on demand.

I never stopped to think what I could do, easily or not, was still more than the average person. If it was easy for me, if the piece didn’t take much time or didn’t require a lot of agonizing, I dismissed it as amateurish, unworthy. And if I couldn’t do what I wanted to do – whether I’d taken the time to master the technique – I would be convinced I was just a dilettante, messing about while the real artists looked down their noses.

I was, in other words, a blithering idiot.

Dustin’s death scoured away not only illusions, but fear. After all, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the next day, so what care did I give about whether or not I was perfect anymore? I had something to say – verbally, visually – and I needed to say it. I had to say it.

And now I am saying it, in every media I can sort out. Words and poetry, paint and pastel, whatever I can bend to my purpose, this calling. Anything and everything, to soothe the bottomless ache where he used to be, where he is still.

I never considered myself an artist before. I never needed to, never felt like I’d earned it. That isn’t true anymore.

I am an artist, because now my life and my sanity depend on it. I am an artist, because I have no other choice. I am an artist, because either my soul creates, or my spirit dies.

I create to live.

How Else Can They Become?

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“Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”
~Death, from The Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett

I’m not very good at believing in things I can’t touch, but I’m getting better at it.

When I was blasted onto this journey through love and grief, I didn’t have a lot of support, emotional or otherwise. There was Sara, my Chicago friend with her own pain and generous heart, and there were a few others, but for the most part, I was on my own. I was directionless and without focus, my world and heart blown to such pieces that I had no hope of making them whole again.

I had written in The Longest Road about my desire to find something, anything, to help fill the void caused by Dustin’s death. I knew it wouldn’t be a new lover; I was not then and am not now able to pursue that path. But I needed something larger than myself and my grief to believe in; I needed to know that this pain wasn’t all there now was to me, to my life. I needed hope.

Enter Ms. Sarah Fimm. An independent musician and songwriter, she is the leader of a merry band of dreamers, artists and like-minded folk centered around a Facebook group called Inspire Art. There are also companion pages at Tumblr and Pinterest. It’s a global call to thinkers and dreamers, scientists and artists, writers and poets, of all kinds, of all stripes, to band together against human trafficking and modern slavery.

It’s also the group that quite probably saved my life. Although I would not have taken my own life, I would almost certainly have stopped living it, which is basically suicide that doesn’t violate an attendance policy.

Sarah was one of a handful of people encouraging me to begin this blog, to open up the howling wound and let it pour across the internet before it killed me inside. And make no mistake, it was eroding me from the inside out, all that stray dust and pain blowing through me until nothing was left but bare walls and gritty floors. A hollow shell.

At Inspire Art, I found a group of beautiful, caring people who were willing to listen, to hear my words and try to understand. People who offered no criticism, just empathy and unwavering support. They came, they read, and I imagine a few of them even cried along with me. And in return, I came, I saw their artistic efforts, I read their poetry, and they helped ignite a spark in a cold and barren place. I found that some were even encouraged and inspired by my words here, by what I have wrought out of an ageless grief and endless love.

I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in almost 15 years. I began drawing again. I began talking more, reaching out, making an effort to connect I would not have dreamed I had the energy for. I now string together a few mornings in a row that find me excited to get out of bed, excited to try. Something, in other words, that gives me joy amidst the darkness and loneliness. I relearned how to play.

This summer, our merry band will come together at an event dubbed “Powered by Dreaming,” also known as the Sparkle Park. In upstate New York, we will put our collective heads together with scientists, learners, and other inspired thinkers to make this world a better place, to help make ourselves and others better people. We will learn, we will connect, we will grow, and we will share this light with the world. And everyone is welcome to join us.

Because there isn’t enough light in this world. There isn’t enough understanding.

I lost the love of my life. He is gone from me now. So I will make of my life a tribute, a living legacy, so that something beautiful and pure can come from this loss. And I won’t do it alone.

Will you help us?