SoulCollage: I am the one with one wing

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NOTE: In SoulCollage, after one has created the image, there are a number of ways to deepen the process by writing about it. We begin by letting the image “speak” for itself beginning each sentence with the words “I am the One”.

I am the one whose wings have been replaced by a hundred hands held out for help.

I am the one who is seduced by providing help to those hands – both because of the immediate pleasure and gratification in being able to help and in being able to solve a problem, and also because doing so provides my living.

I am the one who ignores my own deep art to answer the call of another’s need.

The truth is that I am so anxious about my own abilities as an artist that it’s easier to turn my face away from my own art. The truth is I am ashamed of how I betray my inner artist over and over again. The truth is, I have been asked for my poetry manuscript by a serious literary publisher—and I do not have a manuscript ready because I have not been balancing taking other people’s art seriously with taking my own art seriously.

The truth is, I have been struggling with this same issue all my adult life, and I have never found a long term solution for it. The truth is I am a binge writer – when I carve out a week of retreat or a workshop, I produce like crazy, but I have never given myself the regular time and space I need for steady progress on my own projects.

I blame my partner for this. I blame my work for this. But the truth is, it is entirely my fault. If I believed in myself as a writer and as an artist, if I burned with passion for my own projects, I would not be flapping here, wounded, with just one wing.

When I ask the image, “What do you have to give me?” It answers:

I give you a visual reminder of the beauty of your own ink. I remind you that no one has your thumbprint, your fingerprint, and that no one else can replicate what comes out of your fingers. I give you the bloom of shame and remorse that happened in your belly as you were assembling my elements and creating me, and the ache in your chest now as you look at me.

When I ask the image, “What do you want from me?” It answers:

I want from you the same thing you have wanted from yourself all this time, all these years. A commitment to follow through on your own projects, to make time to do your own work, the work that matters to you as an artist. Just for its own sake, To dream the dream of creativity without worrying about publication, without worrying about the outcome. For its own sweet sake. For your Soul’s sake.

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In the summer of 2013 I was invited to do a TEDtalk on “Shining the light on our Changing Communities”. I talked about the therapeutic writing program I do with incarcerated women. You can view the talk here.

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