We all have our stuff, our baggage, our beliefs, our insights, our history, our hopes and…..drum roll….our path. I’ve always known about my path, have always sought to find my secure footing on it, and have often strayed, lost faith my path ever existed, and subsequently succumbed to filling my life with distractions, often negative and dangerous ones, in the hope they would fool me into thinking I was happy and living a meaningful, purposeful life. Those distractions were, and continue to be, a part of my path, part of who I am. In those distractions, I have built identity, forged meaning. Both of those verbs, ‘build’ and ‘forge’ are creative actions.
Just like various treatments, medications, therapies, books, people, experiences that helped me bushwack a path to individuation, a path I am making very public, this is MY path. So when I write things with which you have issues, please understand that those issues are what make you and I different. I am not better or worse for those differences. You are not better or worse for those issues. If you feel a need to defend your beliefs because you think I am attacking those beliefs, I apologize. My path as a teacher, counselor and coach and through my recent creative online writing is to offer as many opportunities and perspectives around recovery (all recovery, not just addiction) as possible–these are the things that have built my identity. Forged my meaning. A creative process.
I have a graduate degree in teaching English, my partner is one of the most educated (Harvard/Oxford) people I know who has dedicated his life to teaching English, language. My first partner, a brilliant award winning poet, has dedicated his life to using language and to forging meaning. I understand the power of language, and it is something I will always hone in on. Language is life. Andrew Solomon, one of the most respected writers of our time, winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction for this 2001 book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, in the following TED Talk says everything I will spend the rest of my life trying to say and does so in 20 minutes. It is one of the most profoundly moving talks I have ever experienced. Language is life. It is wrought with personal, group, cultural, spiritual, positive and negative meanings. If we do not challenge language, challenge and then forge meaning, we will have no personal identity outside the realm of group consciousness and group identity. And that sometimes means challenging the lexicon of our belief systems.
Solomon ends with the concept I wrote on the back of my business card and stuck in my wallet after I watched the video the first time: “Forge Meaning, Build Identity.”
That’s all I am trying to do. If I can help someone out along their path via what I write or post, then that is great. But what I am offering is creative: some based on fact (as scientific as the fact that mixing blue and red will make purple), some based on creative preference (as in, singing more so than painting soothes my soul), some based on what works better for me (as in, I am a much better watercolorist than I am an oil painter.) I have chosen the word “creative” to use across my websites because while you may come across things that do not resonate with you (I don’t like that song, that painting, that poem, that rendering), I’m not looking for you to try to challenge my creative process or my recovery/re(DIS)covery process.
Facebook used to be a place of forging meaning and building identity for me. I realized recently that unless I learn to make Facebook work for me once again, FACEBOOK will be forging my meaning and building my identity. I must make the necessary changes to make sure I retain control, power of choice, and positivity. Thus I will only be posting my encompassart.com and inrediscovery.com posts on my Facebook page, ENCOMPASS ART, not my personal page. My personal page will be that, personal expression for my own joy. Yy other page will be for expressing myself creatively in the process I call Re(dis)covery. If you want to follow the stuff I’ve been posting, “like” my Encompass Art page. Otherwise, on this journey our paths might not cross as often has they have been recently.
Family and friends, do not get wrapped up in your own emotions regarding my websites. Just as if you were watching a movie or reading a book that is too disturbing, too close to home, too anything which makes you uncomfortable, change the channel or put the book down. Do not try to tell me my setting in this story should be here instead of there, my watercolors are over-worked and muddy, the song is too high for my vocal range, I’d sound better if I found someone to accompany me while singing, that shirt makes me look fat. You wouldn’t do that would you? Then use that same filter when it comes to making comments. I am not looking for sympathy, disagreement, judgement, constructive criticism, and on and on. This is a creative offering, not a discussion. If I want that, I’ll ask for it. Until then, respect my creative journey.