When I was in my early twenties, now nearly twenty years ago, I embarked on a journey of healing and transformation. I knew it was a journey that for all intensive purposes was do or die (or at least do or live without joy and peace in my life.) I had lost my mother a few years earlier and found myself stuck in the grief and unable to move forward.
I began with a blank journal and a handful of prisma colors a friend had given me. I had never been much for drawing or art for that matter, but I was tired of feeling hopeless and decided to charge into my imagination to find what waited there. To my amazement an inner mythology seeped out onto the page and my story of becoming unfolded.
Many of the images from my journal have stayed with me. They live in my mind like full-sensory memories. One of the first drawings is perhaps among those that has had the strongest impact. It was of a small girl headed into a burning forest. As I drew it I felt compelled to face the flames, something in that forest needed me to witness it, and although I was terrified of what it might be, I couldn’t ignore it. (I have attempted to recreate that drawing here.)
Over the course of several years, I kept drawing and writing about what needed to be expressed and the more I explored, the more alive I felt. My drawings eventually told stories of triumph and peace, which brings me to the painting I was working on last night (the one on the right).
It too was of a forest. In fact, several of my drawings have been of peaceful forest-scapes, and each gets more joyful and more magical. As I sat with last night’s painting, I thought about how different the forest of the past felt from the ones I have been drawing recently, and how very different I feel from my twenty-something scared-ling.
Then I realized that I WAS the forest all those years ago, so full of potential energy, so terrified of my big dreams and my brilliant spirit that I spontaneously burst into flames. The difference in my life these days is that I constantly express the fire within. Although facing it sometimes still frightens me, I have grown to love this journey I have created, love my life, and at the center of it all, deeply love myself.