Reframing

I had mentally committed to weekly posts. A strategy to convince myself that I was entitled to a little time to write. A small but cosy space to just be, blurt out whatever, catch some of the thoughts flying about relentlessly. Last weekend it was impossible to scribble anywhere, not even on the scrapbook that keeps travelling around the kitchen. And I did miss the space. I’m noting that down as a good sign.

I’ve been to a show last week. Yes, again. What’s worse is it was a show I had already seen. A show with a cast that makes me smile and packed with nostalgic rock tunes to cheer up even the zombie I’ve become. It’s also made me think about artists and creatives a lot. Musical theatre is populated by humans who are talented at so many things, it is almost irritating.

I am unable to do anything creative. Drawing, singing, acting, sculpting, modelling, sketching, improvising, painting, composing, you name it. I cannot do it. I can dance, but only to a choreography. Or if led. So that doesn’t count.

Last week I was talking to a drama teacher about the dynamics of group learning in the health professions and I heard myself say: ‘I don’t have a single creative gene in me, I just love how theatre works’. I’ve heard myself say something to that effect so many times over the years. I ended up thinking about it for the whole week. I also thought about the woman who went from a drama-based session for nursing students to the small town theatre that she knew would make her heart dance. I thought about the me that stumbles upon beauty everywhere. And I craved some reframing. I wanted to give myself a break from thinking of myself as forever incapable.

I have no qualms describing myself as lacking something. Why does it come so easily? Especially with creativity, why am I so quick at writing it off as a possibility? I am beginning to think the problem -my problem at least- is not a lack. And yet, how do we get so stuck? How does one’s need for self-expression get frustrated to the point it turns inwards to fill us with silence?

It’s difficult to pin this one down because I had kind of made peace with simply not having what it takes. I had accepted and moved on. And yet something is clearly missing. I am beginning to think my problem is a complete inability to take a very specific kind of risk. There are forms of exposure that must feel so threatening to one’s core that our subconscious learns to prevent us ever even going there. It sounds like cheap magazine psychology now that I read it in words, but I never considered reframing my astounding artistic inadequacy. And now I want to. So badly.

I guess the shift from thinking in terms of accepting a lack to thinking along the lines of overcoming a block has to do with a more profound shift in the sense of self (one that is likely to take ages to begin to happen, but still…). And by that I don’t mean indulging in the celebration of one’s ego or embracing individualism. Nothing of the sort. Rather, I’m thinking of the self as one’s right to occupy space. To be. To have a voice. Not a louder or more assertive voice, but just to have one.

And so I sit here, yawning through my long night at the airport, chasing words that will come to rest on this unlikely page and witness the fairly unremarkable but worthwhile birth of a less apologetic me.

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