I have often been asked if I am a dancer or an artist. This question always strikes me as a bit strange, because it comes after I have been observed dancing or sketching. Why would they ask me that the question, if they have been watching me doing it?
I used to answer yes, with the qualifying “but I ‘m not a professional” because I knew what they meant by the question…are you a real dancer or artist..ie. do you make a living this way.
Recently it occurred to me that the question gave me an opportunity to inform people that the arts do not belong to the realm of the “professional”, those people who have chosen to devote their lives to a particular art form. It gave me the opportunity to say, that in fact, the arts belong to all of us. We all have the potential to sing, draw, act, write, dance and make music. Now, when I am asked that question, I say yes, aren’t we all? and I enter into a brief discussion on the subject. I say brief because I am eager to get back to what I was doing before he or she approached me….dancing or drawing.
Sometimes I linger, and talk, telling the person how I have integrated the arts into my life, how the arts enable me to know myself, to express myself, to renew myself and to share myself in community with others. If he or she is really interested I take more time and explain how the arts help me live my life. (enrich my life)
When I am troubled or can’t make sense of what is going on in my life I can turn to my journal or my visual diary and let the words or the drawing tell me what I need to know In this way I gain self knowledge and self awareness. Both of my journals provide me with a safe place to express my thoughts, feeling and ideas.
When I write or work with art materials my whole being is fully involved in the creative process. My mind is focused on the task at hand as I create a story, a poem or a piece of art out of my imagination and my life experiences.
When I sit quietly and draw I am taken out of myself, out of the logical rational part of my brain and into the moment, into the beauty of my subject, whether that is a human being, a landscape or a flower close at hand. ..In this way I am removed from the pressures of my life.
When I dance, I unwind. I am fully present in the moment, at one with the music and my body. The music takes me out of my head and into my body, freeing my mind and connecting myself to my spirit, the essence of who I am, taking me to a place of utter joy and bliss, taking me home to myself…In this way I renew myself.
When I play in a drum circle or sing with friends I am connecting with other people in a profound way, blending my joy and bliss with theirs in community. We are all joining together in that moment, experiencing something wonderful and precious, and this is magic, the magic of people sharing themselves with each other.
As I walk through my life, wearing my many hats, teacher, mother, daughter, friend, I lose sight of my own needs and desires. The arts bring me back to myself, . connecting me to my spirit, .to.the essence of who I am. The arts bring balance into my life and this is wellness…this is health.. this is what it means to be human.
So if you happen to see me dancing or sketching, instead of asking me that question, join me and we’ll dance joyfully together or sit quietly side by side, sketching.
- Barbara Karmazyn