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Why Art Therapy?

Why this blog?

Enjoying art was my way of battling bipolar. I was unwell, as I later found out it was because my doctors prescribed me with medications that were being pushed by agents from big pharma. And to me, it was better than enduring the symptoms of my illness. It was crippling, I couldn’t continue my studies nor work, but I could write from time to time and enjoy all forms of art and creativity when doing better. Only, I could never commit to something since I never knew how long “better” is going to last.

It lasted for a decade.

When it somehow normalised, I finished my studies, travelled to some dream places, wrote reports on Sunshine Laws in pharma, read some things I didn’t have a focus to read before, did some work, left people behind, made better relationships….

And I am diagnosed again with multiple sclerosis. Since journaling did me well, I decided to make it a blog.

Writing in Croatian about times gone by that are vivid in my experience and my imagination, memories of the people I know and people I knew. Oral history since I’ve recorded many conversations with the touch of fiction to faction.

In English, my struggle with illness and coping by using art, connecting dots around the giant corpus of works in different media, connections that are helping in sense-making. I love sharing those, they are so therapeutic, and each one could be written in myriad variations.

Maybe someone will bring something of their own along these lines. Writing, rewriting, retelling.

Invisible

I was watching one Peking Opera yesterday. It absorbed me, and I was happy. I am happy about walking in the park around the baroque castle. It was yellow in my days, and there were more trees in the park. The library and my music school were there. I would get a book, and although I live in the centre near the castle, I would stop in the shades and start reading at the bench.


Yesterday I talked to my friend about one trip once the pandemic is over. I would like to see some things while I can still walk. On the other hand, I am in no position to make plans. I intended to move and sell the flat here, I am writing and looking for more work, sometimes I am confused about what am I doing and what is realistic to hope for.


There were more trees around the castle, but they had to cut them down because they were either old or sick. Am I a tree that needs to be cut down? So many people were cut down this way, so why not me as well? Some in extreme ways. I found a girl that is 27 on the net seeking help for her palliative care. She has cancer. Nature is like that; she doesn’t care; she took brilliant people at the age of 25 or less.


But why are we so invisible, why do we have to fade away while still alive without bothering the ones who are enjoying they earned or whatever the way is they gained goods? Why is there this invisible line between people? Why do some of us need to be cut down like the trees in the old park? The park is way too sunny now and there will be no remedy till the new trees grow. No safe shades all day long like before. I remember one expert in landscapes said many of those trees could have been saved.

Sirach

Do not envy the wicked

For you do not know when their day will come

Bible, The Book of Sirach, 9.11

I love some parts of the Bible and for many reasons the envy towards the wicked became my issue.

Not the wicked in the sense that first comes to mind. This kind of wickedness that annoys me growing towards anger belongs to the well-respected people or those who aspire to be considered as such and who do everything they can to keep the facade. In contrast, they do wicked things secretly to maintain their image.

I guess when my health was better, it was easier to cope with it. The Book of Sirach is full of depictions of their perverse behavior. And advice on how not to become one of them.

In this sense, I’ve always been an iconoclast. I wanted to strip them of the things they use to hide who they are. I had no power to.

The Book says their day will come, but mine is already here.

Conform

The vast majority of us cannot think outside our cultural context or else we would be grand; people who do the so-called paradigm shift. That is for visionaries in different fields. Many people think of themselves as none conformist, but to my knowledge, they have their space in the world and many like-minded people. They are just the minority, that is all. Also, possibly a majority in some future moment.

So, who is the none conformist person? Do people like that exist?

Longing for the Now

In Kyoto

hearing the cuckoo

I long for Kyoto

Basho

I am still well, but my life is bound to change forever. How will I cope?

I am already missing what is there.

P.S This picture belongs to the times of the floating world, but it is a picture of loss and longing. It is depicting a character from the classic Tale of Genji and belongs to my favorite series of prints.

Calming

Early this morning, how wonderful it was to observe the vital impulse of the flowers. Now after breakfast, however, my state of mind has become rather unhappy, due to the extremely sore straits I’m in. Seeking a {43} way to understand and solve the situation, I discover the only thing I can do is strengthen my moral character. Success and failure are not things over which I have control.

The Journal of Wu Yubi

I spent a lot of time with you, Wu Yubi. We share the same temper. Could I be as strong as you are?

Could I reach the stage when outbursts of petty people will stop bothering me? I mean the people who think their mere luck or even worse, wicked cleverness, is merit.

How do I climb your mountain where I can say success or failure is not in my control, all I need to do is strengthen myself?

Tao of the Duck


Laughter

BY CRISOSTO APACHE

These words of two, three years ago returned.
— Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, tr. by Will Petersen

one  day, Coyote sees Duck walking her ducklings,
Coyote asks her how she keeps them in a straight line,
Duck says she sews them together
with white horsetail hair every morning
and tugs on the line gently,
until the horsehair disappears,
that is how she keeps her ducklings in a row
as usual, Coyote leaves smiling, she sees a white horse
grazing in a nearby field,
she plucks a few strands of tail hair
and returns to her burrow
the next morning, one by one
she begins to sew her pups together
when she finishes, she gently tugs on the horsehair
and drags their little bodies along the ground,
Coyote tilts her head in dismay and becomes distraught,
she realizes she has killed her little pups

“Indians” will laugh about anything and anyone,
no matter the tragedy

I loved this poem the moment I read it. I am guessing I will be searching for the whole book.

Indeed, the way of the duck is her way. No one can mimic it with success. The poem tells so much more than just not trying to collect what is not yours at any cost.

Also, I am not sure in life coyote is punished so severely, but she does appear ridiculous to anyone whose opinion matters. Anyone with informed opinions.

However, as this keeps disappearing from the world, we will have more coyotes following the way of the duck. If it is not tragic for one coyote, it is fatal for her kind.

P.S. I loved the quote from Akutagawa, the creator of Rashomon and authors comment on the “Indians” as he is obviously Native American. So I am adding to his comments, and this is becoming real dialogue in the intertext so if someone adds a comment we are creating together.

Obijeljeni grob

On se zalaže za nešto i uspješan je u tome. Dok se ne zagrebe površina, on ima cilj i radoholičar je. On vodi ljude i ima svoju sljedbu. Možda čak i propovijeda nekoga boga. On vjeruje i predan je.

Samo, neobično voli da stvari idu glatko, da kotači ne poskakuju po kaldrmi. Sposoban je, naime, samo za jednostavna rješenja, a vrlo često i sklon striptizu kad je u pitanju njegova privatnost. Ako treba, ogolit će je u javnosti da pokaže svoj besprijekoran karakter. Jer takav je on, besprijekoran i stoga i životi drugih moraju biti besprijekorni. Može se zapeti, ali to mora završiti na dobro. Ako i nije, bit će dobro i prikazat će to iz rakursa u kojem izgleda dobro.

On nema problema koji ne prolaze. Ova sorta ignorira tragediju, ne da je joj pravo postojati. Ljudi koji žive tragediju su za sanatorije, njih treba izbaciti iz igre pod svaku cijenu, bezuvjetno. I onda se pitamo zašto ovo vrijeme ne daje veličine koje niču iz patnje! Pa vlada soj koji bi izbrisao s lica zemlje i Pascala i Keatsa.

Wickedness

Most of my problems have nothing to do with illness. Not a thing. I don’t even fear the upcoming suffering. I know suffering.

What I fear most is narrow mindedness. I am not even afraid to say it out loud since everyone thinks it is someone else or just me being bitter.

Stupidity or lack of wisdom is the other side of wickedness. Cunning or clever but short-sighted.

And this is what I am battling now. My quality of life doesn’t depend one bit on the progress of my disability but the amount of petty evil I’ll be exposed to.

Even people that have nothing against me can be very oppressive with their being close but not understanding a thing and wanting me to do things their way. Because they are healthy, they worked more extended periods, and they should know.

The less people know, the less they question themselves and learn, and the more gap there is between us. And the more obstacles for me.

Indeed, any obstacle that still lingers on is the human lack of reason. All the suffering I went through in my eight years of ill-treatment by doctors is nothing compared to this.

I see it is destroying me; I am being dismantled step by step, but I keep moving on although I know pure horror awaits me for the sole reason I challenged someone’s firm held beliefs.

It is hard to be specific, but those who experienced it know.

Jona

Ljetno se vruće popodne primicalo kraju. Cvrčci su se još čuli, za ovakvih dana čuju se i u samu noć. Spuštam se polako prema plažici svoga bezbrižnog djetinjstva gdje sam naučila plivati. Sjećam se još fotografija u dvodijelnome kostimu na kojem sa inzistirala. Koliko znam, otkad imam volju, nisam se htjela kupati gola ili polugola niti se presvlačiti na plaži. Bilo je još drugih neobičnih stvari vezano za mene, ali svi roditelji govore o svojoj djeci hagiografije u kojima od najranije dobi pokazuju neke izvanredne osobine. Pogotovo ako “uspiju u životu”.

I tako sam hodala po suhim iglicama koje su padale s visokih borova, još tri stepenice, pa onda cesta i onda se spuštam na kamene ploče. Imam svoje mjesto koje nitko niti za najveće gužve neće. Ne znam zašto, možda jer je ploča zemljana, a na njoj-naravno-iglice. I onda se lijepi za mokre ručnike. No moj se ručnik ne smoči, tamo je vječan hlad, ja se niti ne namjerevam sunčati nego se nakon žustroga plivanja i okretanja u moru, ronjenja-ako nema puno ljudi-brzo presvlačim, sjedam uz more i pišem ili čitam. Do sljedeće sesije.

Toga dana u moru je bilo samo dvoje Britanca, gosti iz hotela su se pokupili da se pripreme za večernju šetnju. Godinama prije doživjela sam životni brodolom koji je ostavio ožiljke na meni, samo da spomenem. Uskočila sam i zaplivala. Kada sam otprilike otplivala dužinu bazena, okrenula sam se i krenula plivati leptir prema njima. Dobila sam na težini, ali to me nije ometalo u plivanju. Nisam išla direktno na njih, nego u njihovu smjeru.

“Vidi kit!”, rekli su.

Mislila sam kako su ljudi glupi, jedva drže glavu iznad površine, a našli su se rugati meni! Tako je to uvijek. No, iznenada su počeli teturati van, nenavikli na kamen i sike.

Tada sam bila progutana. I još sam u utrobi ribe. Ne znam zašto. Nisam bila pozvana propovijedati stanovnicima Ninive, iako sam možda to nekada činila misleći da će me čuti i pokajati se. Koji sam to poziv odbila? mislila sam u utrobi ribe. Ako se ne dosjetim i ne promijenim svoj kurs, ako ne obećam, kako ću izaći?

Još sam u utrobi ribe, pod morem, a ne mogu uživati more, i sve je oko mene, a ja ne mogu. Ne mogu odustati od zamjeranja Ninivljanima. (Plačem li to od bijesa što će se čak i najgori spasiti pokore, a ja ne?) Još sam u utrobi ribe i neću izaći dok ne dočekam smrt s tim da znam da će svakim danom biti sve teže. Ja neću izaći jer bijesnim na Njega.

Poet Healer

If my health would bear it, I could write a Poem which I have in my head, which would be a consolation for people in such situation as mine.

Keats, The Letters of John Keats

John Keats was a brilliant student of medicine, his biographers say. He had a unique way of talking about certain conditions that were revealing his calling as a poet. So they say. And I can imagine it to be true.

Keats suffered from tuberculosis, which was deadly in his days. He was chronically ill himself and yet he wanted to heal others.

Words and symbols are carrying magic. This belief is probably as old as language and art, as humanity. Keats is putting it into words in his own way, in the context of his time.

Writing as therapy? Many on this platform are guilty of this. Don’t give up, please. Maybe we can never pronounce the healing poem Keats dreamed of, maybe because we are just human. Still, look at his legacy!