Coming Alive Through Art
| by Lisa Boyles |
This weekend, I have two pieces of art I created in a silent auction to benefit a great cause. I am now in a space of giving of myself and abundance. That is not where I was eight years ago. Then, I had no friends saving a place for me. I had no job to which to call in sick. I had no projects waiting to be finished. I had returned all my library books. I had paid back the money I owed to the lady at church. I could leave this earth and not even leave a trace. I had the habit of sleeping late into the afternoon in my room at my parent’s house. That day, I got out of bed before lunch time, but only because it was my 35th birthday. I felt I needed to do something memorable. Why not go out with a bang?
I had never held a gun before. It went off before I even aimed it. I was not prepared for the kick back. The bullet ricocheted off the wall and hit several glasses and bottles sitting on the kitchen table. I realized I didn’t really want to kill myself. I just wanted evidence to show me that I was actually alive. The shot was so loud inside the house that my ears were ringing. Just then, the phone rang as well. It was my old therapist calling to check in on me. Did he have a sixth sense? He asked, “Are you alone?” “Yes.” “Can you get a hold of someone to be with you?” We talked the entire time while I waited for my father to drive home from work. He suggested that I get into art therapy. I had never considered it before. My mother and sister were artists, but not me.
I started that next month in a program called card shop. It gave me a place to be for two hours every week. It gave me something to focus on other than downwardly obsessive thoughts. Sometimes I cut paper, other times I fixed decals and sometimes I packaged the finished products. A small group of us created these handmade cards for all sorts of occasions and I got to take one with me as payment for my work in the class. Something as simple as a card gave me a reason to reach out to old friends. I started writing again, too. After about six months I had graduated from the more vocationally minded card shop to the more independent studio art group. I was learning techniques and using a variety of media to create original pieces of art. I didn’t have to have a job to have worth. I could create something of worth with my own two hands and two hours of focusing my time and energy.
I live with purpose now. I create, therefore I am. I see a place and I want to make it beautiful. I have taken on the task of improving my neighborhood. The block around my house is run down. There are several empty houses and vacant lots. Those fallow places remind me of that time in my life when I had no purpose. People don’t think twice about dumping old furniture under the railroad bridge. New graffiti shows up every month on the abandoned buildings with delapidated roofs. First, I took on the task of picking up litter on a regular basis, then I passed out flowers for my neighbors to display on their front porches. I worked up to bigger projects. Recently, I co-ordinated seventy volunteers to paint a mural on the walls of that neglected corridor on my block. At one time, I thought I did not have a reason to live. Now that I have been a part of something bigger than myself, I feel that a part of me will live on.