Learning to give expression to our experience of illness can teach us much about ourselves. I came to this conclusion when out of desperation for a cure for what ails me, I googled the words healing and illness. During the first three years of living with a chronic illness, I’d done this many times before. Instead of finding sites on diets, cures or the latest research on RA, what came up on the first page was DH Lawrence’s poem Healing:
I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the
freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.
Wounds to the soul? Difficult Repentance? Realization of life’s mistake? What does this have to do with me? Could this possibly be a synchronicity, where acausal events collide together causing an internal shift in consciousness or awareness – an aha moment – a meaningful coincidence? Finding this poem at that particular time in life was definitely a meaningful coincidence for me. I had googled those key words healing and illness many times before, and had never seen the poem, and DH Lawrence was a favorite writer who had lived and created while chronically ill with TB.
What I’m trying to share with this personal example of synchronicity is that for many of us, the imagination has atrophied in favor of work, making money or other ego pursuits. I know it had for me. Finding Lawrence’s poem helped me realize this and to claim my right to make art. By making art, I mean storytelling, poetry, music, dance, visual arts, painting, sculpture, singing, woodworking, acting, blogging, etc.I now realize that connecting with the everyday artist within is crucial to being able to re-create life when our plans have failed us.
Over the years, my professional experiences, study and research have proven to me making art has the capacity to unite mind, body and spirit. When working with clients living with chronic illness, I encourage them to write, draw, paint or sing out those deep feelings that can’t be accessed through the intellect. If clients claim not to be creative, I have them share music, film and other art forms that touch their Souls. In this way I gain access to their feelings which helps me assist them in bringing meaning to their individual situation.
Although I work with professional artists, singers and actors, I do not consider this population to be the only ones who can make Art. Anyone can make Art. Whether or not it sells is beside the point. The point is to engage the imagination and reclaim your right to give creative expression to your experience of the human condition. I write bad poems. I blog. I sing. What do you do?