The Healing Power of Creative Expression
Don't Help Anyone!
It was a Friday evening at the end of an ordinary week. But something was wrong. I felt a heaviness and an unwellness that I just could not describe. Not unwell as in coming down with a seasonal bug. But rather the anguish of a heavy burden sinking down on my chest.
I told my partner David that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was, and that I was just going to get into bed to try to be gentle with myself. I remember trying to watch some DVD I’d seen many times before as a way to lighten my mood. And I remember in the background of my mind, something was working away, trying to resolve itself.
Later there were tears and exhaustion and I slept. I let myself be like that for much of the weekend, very puzzled but knowing that this was something from deep within, as it was not related to anything currently going on in my life. There was no ‘story,’ and I so appreciated my hard-won (though still inconsistent) ability to not make one up, but to simply try to be. To be with myself. And to just be.
Then, on Sunday late in the afternoon, I suddenly thought – my painting! ...
Including All Without Excluding Any
Sitting in the bedroom of the 1940s cottage nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains, the slightly musty smell tickling my nose, I was filled with despair. I looked out the window, with the canopy of huge redwoods filtering in thin streams of sunlight, opened my mouth and let out an agonized yell. I could sense the vibrations deep in my chest and feel the sound scrape in my throat. As I heavingly took a deep breath to let out another yell, I took in the people sitting around me looking at me with no alarm or distress, but rather a welcoming, encouraging, kind energy. With the next yell I felt lighter, recognizing in my bones that I was not alone, understanding that the redwoods, which had been there for hundreds of years with their arms outstretched, would help me to hold all the pain in the world…
We were at an NVC retreat, early on in my immersion into NVC, and I’d been trying to ask the owner of the lodge about options for people with non-mainstream dietary requests. After some heated words (on his part – which he later apologized for), I found myself in the lobby talking with my empathy buddy Sue, tears rolling down my cheeks.
How had asking for something different in a meal led to this? And why was it affecting me so deeply? I was so very puzzled for a long time.
Then it hit me, oh, this is the minutest of instances of minorities not being considered or included… And, in all the countries where I had worked as a humanitarian aid worker, repeated instances of non-inclusion over years and oftentimes generations are what led to wars. No wonder my reaction was so strong....