Thursday, April 26, 2012

Joan of Art

Organized religion is not for me.  It’s not the God thing, it’s the people thing.  It seems to me that human beings have just made a mess out of religion.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against people who go to church, temple, etc.  I’m actually very interested in religions, large and small, and have been studying them for over thirty years.  It’s just that I, like a lot of other anti-Status Quo, free spirited people I know, am not much of a joiner, and could never choose one religion over another in order to fence myself in spiritually.  One over the other?  I don’t get that.    My spirituality has evolved and changed as I have evolved and changed.  It’s personal and simple.  My philosophy?  Leave the world better than you find it.  That’s my religion and that’s what I teach my kids.

What has guided me all of my life, in the absence of organized religion, is what I call my inner Joan of Art voice, the “still, small voice” within that always knows what to do.  I have listened, and relied upon, this voice all of my life.  As a small child, I trusted that voice when I couldn’t trust the adults in my life.  I escaped into my own world and expressed myself freely with my art. When I was being creative, I was safe and in control.   Music, art, humor, and my curiosity of anything outside of the norm are what sustained me through my teen years.  As a young adult, I took a leap of faith and jumped out into the great, wide open, and found my way with the same music, art, humor, appreciation for anything outside of the mainstream, and the written word.  I had started writing.

Then I became a mom. I love my kids!  I love all kids.  Kids are all artists – naturally inquisitive, uninhibited, trusting, and one with the moment. They make me laugh.  When I started teaching art to young children, laughter took on a whole new dimension as I got to be a big goof with them.  From that, art and teaching led me into my activism, a natural continuum and expansion of my creativity, and a challenge to my rebellious nature.  

My Joan of Art voice has guided me through every stage, impasse, and crisis throughout my life.

When I got cancer, I was scared to death.  I felt so lost.  For the first time in my life, I couldn’t hear my Joan of Art voice.  “Even if I survive the cancer, I am as good as dead without Joan of Art,” I would say to myself.  I didn’t know what to do.

Then I decided that if I could not hear Joan of Art, I could at least remember Joan of Art.  So I went through the motions, and started writing, drawing, and painting, whether I felt inspired or not.  In time, I laughed. That laughter reconnected me to that voice and I found myself again.  Once I had myself back, I knew I was going to be OK, no matter what the outcome.  The only way I could find myself, after losing myself, was by making art.

Listening to music, painting, drawing, laughing, reading great literature and writing are what has kept me going and helped me make sense of this whole crazy cancer ordeal.  By staying creative, I keep connected to God, The Source, The Divine, a Higher Power, or whatever you want to call it.  Making and appreciating art is my daily practice.  That’s how I stay regular… being creative every day.  A dose of art is like getting a spiritual chiropractic adjustment.  Creativity is what straightens me out and puts me back on track.  

Artists, even though most people don’t stop to think about it, are who make the daily grind for the masses more bearable, interesting, or meaningful.  Whenever people stop to appreciate music, art, humor, or literature, they are getting a spiritual chiropractic adjustment, whether they are conscious of it or not.  

Joan of Art has spoken.  And she did not leave the building!  Phew!