“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself” -Andy Warhol
Considering oneself an active agent of change rather than a passive recipient of it is really the key to feeling empowered, and so, when I read this quote by the ever-legendary Warhol, it deeply resonated with me. While we are often swept up in the tidal waves of life, thrusting us in any which direction, making us at times feel powerless, frozen, and even on the verge of drowning – there is an anchor. That anchor is yourself, the very core of your being, which acts both as a flotation device that simply keeps your head out of the water, as well as the vessel that is now in your own hands, allowing you to steer course or just find a way to better navigate the rough seas you have suddenly found yourself in. You have a Chance.
Now that the house is set up and I’ve got a rough sense of my bearings, the only thing I wanted to do was paint. I’m also going through this hyperactive state of processing so much novel stimuli around me and it has left me feeling in need of a recharge, yet amusingly inspired. I am grateful for this opportunity to live in Malaysia, to be surrounded with so much beauty (some apparent, some not so apparent), and since I’ve made a promise both to myself and to my husband that I will try to make this work for me – this is the way I know how. Since I left my undergraduate years many moons ago, where I was forced to create art on a full-time basis being my major and all, I’ve lapsed greatly. I used a lot of excuses over the years – grad school was the biggest one, and probably the most valid, but I’m out of them now. Unless, of course, I count watching TLC Asia.
Using boats, bodies of water, and weather as analogies for the highs and lows of life are themes that we, as humans, have repeatedly used to symbolize our histories, exemplify our victories, and find meaning and direction during times of feeling completely and utterly alone. As an art therapist, I have seen this very symbolism come up many times in my clients’ artworks, and as ancient as these symbols are, they are forever embedded into the fabric of our personal narratives. I have also witnessed, both through helping others through their creative process and engaging in my own, that having an understanding of how our art (of any kind) bares our souls is far less important than just allowing it to happen.
Most people hold a strong association to the ocean, myself included – the way it smells, the way it moves, the way it looks, the way it makes one feel. There is a presence, a life force, so strong in such vast bodies of water that leaves something more to the senses to desire. I don’t know about you, but being near the ocean makes me want to inhale and devour it, it makes me want to eat it, in a weird way. (It sort of makes sense – we spend 9 months cocooned in a warm sac of water, our bodies are up to 60% water, we’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, etc.) When we lived in Newfoundland, Canada, by the tip of the Atlantic Ocean, this association only became stronger and everyone I observed around the sea only became one way: quiet. What could there be left to say when the sea had so much to share? For me, among all of nature’s limitless bounties, I find that it is really only the ocean that understands me – and this isn’t the Pisces in me talking. What other majestic creation is so likened to human emotion that it feels like it gave birth to it? The ebb and flow of the tides, its darkness and depth, the security found in its buoyancy, and its ability to both nurture life and destroy it within seconds. Fear and love, both cohabit side by side in the sea, and as water is the essence of life, so is change – and this mysterious, psychic life force handles it beautifully.
And so can we.