The Resurrection of the Artist

By Annie Banks

Winter was Mild …

…and the spring came on achingly slow. The combination produced the most glorious early spring blossoms anyone could remember in this part of the world. The tulip magnolias bloomed uninterrupted by frost for the first time in a decade. Then came the slow progression of dogwoods. As the dogwoods bloomed, Easter 2020 came and went, and the entire world became still. The world became still and a dormant seed inside of me burst through the soil of my heart and began to grow. I unpacked materials I’d been storing away (and lugging around with each move) for years and took over the kitchen table. I began drawing and painting.

I dove in with no agenda. It wasn’t enjoyable at first… in fact it was awkward and uncomfortable mostly. I’d experienced that before so I knew I had to get through the first layer. I knew it had to be the kitchen table. The same one I’m typing from now, still covered with the scrap canvas protecting the table from paint. It had to be unavoidable. I had to walk past it 57k times a day, in the room, I spend the most time in. 3 feet away from the sink, and stove, and refrigerator.

Not perfect, but workable.

I knew my daughter would be in the mix, and I’d be interrupted. Perfect conditions don’t exist. Just workable, are these workable conditions? Certainly, there have been times when the conditions really weren’t workable. Or the stress involved to try and force the conditions to workable wasn’t worth the energy. All of those times taught me to explore creativity in other areas and as a result, I am a more balanced human! But so much of the last 17 odd years, the only blocking factor was my mind.

And as I unpacked the art supplies and began to prime the well of my creative soul, all the year and the layers of sediment cleared away and I could see an “event” I unknowingly internalized, effectively cutting off my creativity. Up to this point, I had done a lot of inner child exploration. I had walked through stories from my childhood, hidden beliefs, and coping mechanisms. And this event lay right at the end of “childhood”… in the heart of a 20-year-old college student. I called it “the mortal wound” because it wasn’t the only thing… but it was the thing that did me in.

I dipped my brushes in paint, and lost my mind in the flow of creation…

… and let one specific memory move through me. I saw not just the moment but the months after, and how it translated into my relationship with this creative part of myself. The pain. The shame. The self judgment. And finally just giving up. So, for 17 years after graduating from college I looked for what I was supposed to do with myself, with this life I’ve been given. And that seeking brought me to and through amazing and meaningful things. But throughout the journey, there was always a sense of looking for my purpose. I found a lot of things I loved doing, some things I was good at, and some not so great at, but I never really had the feeling of desiring excellence. Let someone else be the best, I was content with good enough. But I was hiding something from myself.

Here was this divide, my life and identity as an artist, and the life I created as an adult separate from that. And in that second life, there was always something missing. Desire to excel. Passion. Fire. That indescribable THING that draws you TO IT. It matter less WHAT THAT IS, than it does THAT YOU EXPERIENCE FEELING IT.

And then it was like all the lights came on. If I didn’t express this part of myself, I would probably never feel fully myself in any role in my life. Mother, Coach, Wife, Friend… I am an artist. And the flame of my artist’s soul, burns bright to share this message with you.

We are ALL artists. We are all CREATORS. The Creative Energy available to me, or Michelangelo, or Oprah or Cardi B, is available to each and every one of us. What we do with it will be the unique fingerprint we impart as it passes through us. The question to ask is, what does your SOUL desire to create with your life? Then… get really still, and really quiet, so you can hear that still small voice.

- Insights -

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