Browsing through the blogs I follow, I have noticed a common theme lately. Many of us are searching for a way to deal with and heal from the images and words of soul-draining discord, hatred, and fear that surrounds us. At times it has just been too difficult to watch the news, to see the mess that humans are making of the world, and the unrest that plagues our country. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, it can have a negative affect on my health, and I need to disengage from it from time to time. Some friends have said they are taking a break from facebook and/or other social media, or that they're staying offline altogether.
Ironically, however, I have found much comfort from my blogger and facebook friends, as they share not only their fears and doubts, but also their encouragement, love, and inspiration. There are many wonderful people in the world, whose words of hope and inspiration are like healing drops of wisdom that have washed over my soul. Words do indeed heal; in art there is much power if we choose to see it.
For instance, I found these wise words on Terri Windling's beautiful blog, Myth and Moor: "... Stories do not give instruction, they do not explain how to love a companion or how to find God. They offer, instead, patterns of sound and association, of event and image. Suspended as listeners and readers in these patterns, we might reimagine our lives. It is through story that we embrace the great breadth of memory, that we can distinguish what is true, and that we may glimpse, at least occasionally, how to live without despair in the midst of the horror that dogs and unhinges us." ~ Barry Lopez
Terri also shares these thoughts from Toni Morrison:
Troubled times, she says, are precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
"I know the world is bruised and bleeding," she adds, "and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge -- even wisdom. Like art."
I found great inspiration in these and other words by Effy Wild, who is a facebook friend, an artist, a teacher, and a wonderfully articulate writer. In a recent blog post, she writes: "I realized, thanks to a few shining lights in my universe, that all I could do in the face of this was *what I already do* but more fiercely. With more love. More compassion. More emphasis on mutual understanding. And better boundaries....
But before I, personally, could do anything, I had to give myself space to feel what I felt. Rage. Mistrust. Deep, feminine wounding. Fear. All of it had to rise up, and all of it needed expressing.
And once I'd done that, I knew that the right answer for me was to do more of the same, but more fiercely. I knew that the right answer, for me, was to treat everyone like they are God In Drag (thank you, Ram Dass), and to remember, above all else, that We Are All Just Walking Each Other Home (more Ram Dass)."
I agree. More of the same, but more fiercely. Please read the entire post; in fact, you'd be well served to read everything she writes.
Then, I found this on Seth Apter's blog, The Altered Page. Seth has always been an artist and blogger who has focused on bringing people together, generously coming up with exciting projects that promote collaboration among members of the art blogging community. In this blog post, he says, "We are all individuals with complex experiences, unique ideas, personal histories, and our very own baggage. This guarantees that life will be complicated and challenging. However, this post stands as a reminder of the importance of support, love, acceptance and respect. Always. And the rejection of bigotry and intolerance to difference. Always.
For me, this is not about who voted for who -- although I know for many that cannot be dismissed. For me, this is about something bigger than the election. This is about taking an individual step toward a collective healing. Naive? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely.
In that vein, a group of artists have created the hashtag #artistsforlove. Use it, embrace it, share it. I first read about it here and then here. Take the time to click the links and see how you can join this movement and create your own poster that celebrates rather than diminishes inclusivity and love."
Thank you, Seth, Effy, Terri and everyone who promotes tolerance and love.