A few weeks ago I wrote about my yearly pilgrimage to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health—a deeply spiritual experience for me. When I am on retreat, life simplifies itself and I am able to see my struggles, dreams, motivations and inner workings in their true light. I always journal about these things when I am at Kripalu, and this year it occurred to me that there is one issue that continues to announce itself, every year louder than the last. The issue is a deep, nearly impenetrable tightness at the very bottom of my soul. I always experience that tightness with such intensity on retreat, because I am constantly engaged in activities that jostle and loosen that tightness….and quite honestly, it is terrifying (yet glorious).
I usually do not make it through a yoga or dance class or a meditation hour (at Kripalu) without tears pushing their way forcefully up from the depths of my belly. The tears beg for freedom, they beg to drop down my cheeks and hit the floor so as to run as far away from me as possible. I live a conflicted existence—a free-spirit who often feels imprisoned and unable to express itself as freely as it needs to. But, I know that in diving into my art these past 2 years, I have begun to loosen and heal (though I still have a long way to go).
I knew when I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in 15 years, and allowed myself to paint simply for the joy it brings to my soul, that I was stepping into new territory…..I was traveling down into the unforgotten, but seemingly inaccessible, part of myself that is still the free little girl who felt safe and confident in expressing herself, the little girl who could effortlessly paint and draw anything her imagination thought up, the little girl who loved to dance, sing and perform and never felt self-conscious, the little girl who was perfectly comfortable being the artist she was born to be. At a young age that little girl went into hiding. A tragedy robbed her of her bubbling joy and innocence and it's been a struggle ever since to pry her back out into the light of day, at least in any permanent way. The details of that tragedy are unimportant, as we all have our stories, but it did leave behind an indelible mark that has severely damaged my ability to live freely. I have had clenched fists and tight muscles ever since—something I feel at certain times more than others….something I am constantly working to defy.
In exploring art again, I have come to realize that letting go is my primary goal in life, it is what I have been seeking in all my travels and adventures, and it is the one thing I believe will open the world up to me. It's no wonder that I gravitate toward activities that allow me to momentarily experience that sense of freedom I lost….but it's no longer enough. I want to completely let go. I want to, with one blessed breath, be released. I want to pick up my paintbrush and feel that innate ability to create without thinking. I want to dance and sing, write poetry and photograph life. I want to be me.