Wordless Chorus

Note: This is post 3 of a 30-day WriteStreak Challenge. It is also from a Story Skills Workshop exercise.

Tell me spirit, what has not been done?

-My Morning Jacket, Wordless Chorus

It was 2008 on a crisp, cool autumn afternoon in Pensacola, Florida. I stepped out of the 4th grade classroom where I had just had a ton of fun engaging with kids in hands-on science lessons. I was volunteering & on a lunch break from my job as a government contractor at a nearby airfield. A few steps down the hall, I froze in my tracks, my heart skipped a beat, I gasped at the display before me & began to cry.  It was a large bulletin board covered in kids art. Brilliant watercolors. Purple backgrounds with orange, yellow, and red leaves.  

In an instant, I knew where this came from.  I wanted to feel the delight I knew in making art  when I was little, but I was terrified. I had always been moved by art & wanted to paint, but never let myself explore painting anything more than paint by numbers and folk art classes as a kid. I had no idea how to start.  It felt as though my life depended on it somehow. I knew I had to do something about it. The internet turned up the perfect weekend workshop for me in Winter Park, FL: The Painting Experience: Where the act of creating is more important than the outcome. So in February 2009 this was my generous birthday present to myself.

I surprised myself. On the 2nd day at one pivotal point, I dropped my brushes & switched to the palette knife. And the next thing I knew I was using my fingers. I was grooving, just about dancing at that point. I was wild.  It felt amazing, like music moving through me. Later on as I cleaned my brushes in the sink and looked across the room at what I produced I was stunned. I cranked out 4 paintings over 3 days. And in the years, since I continue this practice. It is soothing & therapeutic. It fuels me. More than this though…

Through this practice on that weekend, I learned to trust the creative process, to withhold judgement, to pay attention where you feel uncomfortable or where you feel resistance & then follow it, go in there. Those are the richest territories for discovery and expansion.

I was better off without a map or detailed instructions.  Those were the optimal conditions for me. I only needed a light framework and a few others to challenge me where I was holding back. A few others to support me to go where I had not gone before to do what I had not done.

Credits: Title taken from My Morning Jacket’s Wordless Chorus

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