Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Through My Water Glass

I took an art therapy class ten years ago from an artist named Leah Matson, who was also a licensed therapist.  There were about seven of us women who sat together in a room for three hours on a Saturday afternoon and did art and talked about whatever came up.

Each week it was a different medium, watercolors, acrylics, oils, pastels.  Once we made masks.  I remember when Leah brought out the oil paints I cried.  The smell of the linseed oil brought back a flood of memories.  I used to paint with oils when I was a kid.  I painted the things I didn't know, like the giant panda bears that the United States received as gifts from China, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, straight out of the National Geographic, which is where I got most of my subject matter back then.

But now, at the table of the seven women, I painted from somewhere inside me a murky green landscape that looked like mud, and then I put a leaf on top and painted more mud over that.  I hated it.  I watched as one woman painted portraits in intense, chalky reds with bright blue auras, staring faces with other-worldly expressions that had an aboriginal feeling to them.  Another woman painted a soft and lovely landscape with a luminous figure in it and then suddenly etched across the surface of her drawing in yellow pastel the words "take dominion."  I was so enamored of her and her startling impulse, the action of marring a beautiful painting with force, that I asked her if I could have her painting.  Sometimes we see in others the latent qualities that we need to develop in ourselves.

Later, I began to see Leah on a one on one basis.  I had started my book but was too identified with my writing to allow myself to make mistakes with it.  To be identified with something in psychology means that you can't separate yourself from it.  You don't know where you end and the other begins.  During one of our sessions I remember Leah asking me if I was shy and my feeling very upset by that.  Shy was so far from who I knew I was but for some reason it was true.  Completely.  I felt desperate, as if I were at the bottom of a pool and couldn't make it to the surface.

The mystic Meister Eckhart wrote:

"When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image out before her and enters into it."

My book The Red Coat is an image that my soul threw out that I stepped into, like a bubble rising to the top.    

Tonight, I went through my file from Leah's class (I have a file for everything!) looking for that murky green painting but couldn't find it.  I must have carried it around for years and then finally threw it out.  So I imagined a photograph I could take that would capture the feelings I had back then and I decided to snap a picture through the bottom of my water glass!

So tell me, what picture does your soul want you to enter?


Linda said...

this is EXQUISITE writing...

I love how you clarified "identifying" with something. made me realize that I am probably identified w/ stuff and not even aware of it because I don't know where it ends and I begin.

hmmm... what image does my soul want to enter into? Gold. The energy of a large golden sun.

I wish Leah were still doing that class! I miss that sort of group creative activity...

Cynthia Wylie said...

This is beautiful Diana. I wish you would blog more often - purely selfish I know. But that's how much I get from your writing.

My soul wants to enter into a desolate field. Somewhere that I can rest. Contemplate. Focus on being and not on becoming.

Sarah said...

I spent the quiet hours of my afternoon reading "Through My Water Glass" and finishing "The Bell Jar". Both find clarity in distortion and more color in grey. Beautifully written Diana.

Here's a passage from The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia) that I thought you might enjoy.

"You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different - deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know."