Growth, Transformation, and the Artist as a Storyteller- Part 3

If you're just seeing this, I wrote a post before this one which can be found here. No pressure to read 🤗, but it's me sharing an apology and an anecdote.

With that said, a couple of weeks ago I finished Living by the Word: Essays by Alice Walker (side note: I'm almost done with Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower!☺️). While reading Walker's essays, several passages gave me greater insight into an artist as a storyteller. Other passages helped me understand that this process of growing and transforming into what one is called to be is not always pleasant, but can actually be quite painful, confusing, and terrifying.

An Artist

In an essay titled The Old Artist: Notes on Mr. Sweet, Walker (1988) writes,

He was an extremely soulful player and singer...[I] know that Mr. Sweet was a fixture, a rare and honored presence in our family, and we were taught to respect him... He was an artist. He went deep into his own pain and brought out words and music that made us happy, made us feel empathy for anyone in trouble, made us think. We were taught to be thankful that anyone would assume this risk. (p.39)

The bold emphasis is mine, but I resonated with this passage. I also think there is a risk in allowing oneself to go within and to connect with one's humanity in order to share with others what we've found that can possibly illuminating for another human being. I don't wish to push the narrative that to be a great artist one must always suffer. Yet, after reading this quote I was reminded of a description listed in What's Your Creative Type? Harness the Power of Your Artistic Personality by Meta Wagner. Describing the "sensitive soul," Wagner (2017) writes, "Their [sensitive souls] art has the potential to change people's lives and inspire, comfort, or help heal them" (p.xiv). Based of off how Walker described Mr. Sweet, I wondered if he was a sensitive soul whose art transformed others. It definitely sounds like it.😌

not my books☝🏽 (yet haha), but I really enjoy seeing what other people are reading for some reason🤤

I tend to read books side by side (at the same time) because it's like having multiple conversations with different people. As I read Walker's book, I did ponder about what my creative type(s) are. My curiosity stemmed from wanting to know why I wish to create. What are my motivations? What do I hope to achieve? If I know 'why' and have a strong enough 'why,' then it helps ground me, gives me clarity, and helps me continue when I face any form of adversity. 

I often feel inundated with information, as many people do today, hence why I've been making more time for solitude. I've even locked my phone away, so much so that I'm getting complaints for shutting my phone off 😅. Yet, I'm trying to make room for my voice, or rather, I'm trying to make room to be able to hear my voice...not only so that can come through what I create, but I also want that to come through how I live, which I think is my ultimate masterpiece.☺️

Growth

I'll end this post with Walker's take on growth as it brings me back to the anecdote I shared before this post. The lessons I've learned these past weeks have honestly been at times tremendously heartbreaking, demoralizing, discouraging, and have left me feeling disillusioned. Other times, I've felt hopeful, very hopeful, and have even felt a sense of peace and calm. I know this is all a part of my journey and I have an inner knowing that all of this will lead me to my path though I could not tell you why at this moment...I just know. I'll try to trust in that for now and be patient understanding that the answers will be revealed to me when it's time, but in regards to growth, Walker mentioned the following:

In fact, some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don't even recognize that growth is what is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before...Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. (p.70)

 

Rarely do people share that growth can actually induce different forms of anxiety and/or other forms of extreme discomfort. So, I really appreciated Walker's candor and sincerity shown throughout her essays. Of course, this may not be for everybody, but this definitely resonated with me since I think we can often pathologize everything versus seeing certain aspects of life as a "normal" passage into a different phase of one's life. However, I want to reiterate and recognize everyone's situation is different and hopefully we have access to what will be most supportive and conducive to our own healing and growth.

Well, I hope we can be gentle with ourselves as we learn and grow. And to my fellow storytellers who are at any stage of their journey...I truly can't wait to read your stories! I can't wait to see your stories, I can't wait to hear your stories...You never know whose life you might be saving by sharing. I know many artists time and time again have saved me from great despair, loneliness, and unimaginable anguish. Then again...who knows...that life you might be saving might be your own one day...This also has been true for me. 😌

See you in the final part!

 -Sandy from the Underground Galaxy ✌🏽❤️👩🏽‍🚀

P.S. I went to my first dance classes these past weeks!! It's been more than a year! When I was going through the peak of my rough time, the question I kept getting asked by multiple people (which I thought was honestly random) was "When was the last time you danced?" I even pulled a card whose description included "When was the last time you danced?" So, I took these as imperative signs 😅 and took the necessary precautions before making my decision to go.

I pretty much wanted to run to each of the teachers like this☝🏽and give them huge bear hugs because I missed them so much, but for one I didn't want to get arrested😅...I was just super, super, super happy and grateful to see them. Each of them have taught me so much about life and dance...and honestly they mean a lot to me as human beings though my shyness and awkwardness prevents me from expressing this.

Anyways, this is becoming another post. While I could barely breathe because of my mask😅, I was glad my bangs were practically covering most of my face because my eyes began to water when I saw others dancing and when I took multiple moments to take in everything. Amid everything going on in my personal, professional, and academic lives, (and of course the world) for those brief moments I was just grateful to even be alive. I'm glad I was asked when was the last time I danced.😌

 I hope you are connected to what makes you feel alive too!🙏🏽

(I aim to do another short "Compassion Break"🤗 post for 3/21. Until then, take care!❤️)

*image by Matthew T Rader depicting Vivian Maier a street photographer"

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published