'We are born makers. We move what we‘re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.' Brene Brown, Rising Strong (Vermillion, 2015).
This article is not about art or craftsmanship. It‘s not about being good at drawing or painting or needlework. It‘s definitely not about being good or talented in any conventional sense. When a therapist thinks about a client putting pencil to paper and so on, it‘s with the intention of expressing something; of getting something that resides on the inside out into the light. The sense of something - a feeling, a state of being or even a thought - somewhere deep within us isn‘t always easily put into words. Finding another means of getting it out there can be deeply satisfying. Even if we don‘t immediately have the words to interpret what we‘ve done, we can begin to describe what we see before us. We can ask questions about this choice of colour or that shape and what we associate with what we can now see. So we can begin to come to an understanding of hidden pieces of ourselves.
Warning: what we produce in this process probably won‘t be pretty. In a way, it may be dishonest if it is. If we strive to make this inner world more attractive than it really is, we need to ask why. For whom are we cleaning things up? Maybe we can‘t quite yet bear to see for ourselves our own true nature. Maybe we want to keep it from others‘ judgement. Being aware that we are editing is part of the process. We can always have another go when we‘re ready and we don‘t have to show anyone. Nor do we have to keep what we‘ve created. Just doing something authentic involving heart and hand is where the meat of the matter lies.
Personally, I‘m a big fan of plasticine and of ‘analogue‘ writing (i.e. with a pen and a notebook, not - as I‘m doing now - on a computer). Although I said earlier on that creativity of this kind is seeking to get to something as yet beyond words, many people do find that, if they write around a topic that‘s hard to grasp, often something new and useful will begin to emerge. I should say that the ‘prettier‘ forms of creativity do have their place, too, and it could be argued that walking is creating; every footfall is making our own route from here to there. The pure physical rhythm of making and being absorbed in the activity has enormous healing potential. We don‘t always need a conscious mind in order to process experience.
So, this is a call - not to arms, but to pens, paint, knitting needles, clay, crochet hooks, papier mache or whatever else you fancy. Create! Get it out there!