My parents and Skylar are in Georgia visiting my brother and his family. I’m happy for them, I’m just a little bummed out that I couldn’t be there, too. Treatment gave me a lot, but it also stole all my vacation time. So I had to sit this one out. I miss my people.
Alone time is dangerous. Very dangerous. So I’ve tried to keep busy. I’m very proud of myself because I haven’t been binge watching TV shows the entire time. I’m trying to take advantage of the peace and the space just to be. I’ve spent some time meditating. I went shopping yesterday. Registered for a class. Attended church this morning. I’m obviously blogging right now. I might clean my car later. I’ve read a bit. And I’ve been working on art projects.
My art therapist understood the danger of too much down time, so she assigned me something to work on. It’s a mask. I’m using plaster cloth to make a bird mask. It’s going to be freaking awesome. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s also quite time consuming. The first layer took me almost 3 hours. The second layer took about 2. I’m estimating another 2 hours for layer three. I work on it every other day to give it time to dry. He’s going to look pretty sweet once he’s finished.
It’s awesome, but it’s messy. There’s powder everywhere and my hands are wet and plastery. The cloth doesn’t always do what I want it to. The edges are all frayed. I can see that parts are a little bit crumbly. There aren’t any cracks yet that I can see, though. So that’s encouraging. It’s messy, but it’s neat to see it come together.
It kind of reminds me of life in a way. I was given a roll a powdery fabric, just like we’re each given a life. But you can’t do anything with the fabric. You have to cut it into strips. Then you have to wet the strips and press them hard into the mould (this is the messy part). And very slowly the plaster strips start to form something awesome. They bind together in unpredictable ways to form a figure. Sometimes the strips don’t smooth out all the way. Sometimes it doesn’t pick up all the details of the mould. And sometimes the plaster crumbles a little bit after it dries. But all and all, this little roll of cloth becomes something much cooler than you ever thought it could be. But only after it was cut up, drenched, and pressed down hard and tight.
You get it? I don’t think I need to break it down too much. Like I said, the powdery fabric is the life we’ve been given. But in order for it to become something awesome, it has to be deconstructed, made messy, and put under some pressure. Sometimes the final result isn’t exactly what we want it to be. After all, nothing made by human hands is ever perfect. Even after you’re finished, there might be a few crumbly pieces. But that’s ok. All in all, it’s a work of art when you’re done with it. Something you never thought your own two hands could create. And it’s not even done!
I mean after this part, the possibilities are endless. I can paint it, collage on it, or glue on feathers and beads. Or I can just leave it as it is. I’m almost tempted to leave it as it is. He looks so cool right now. What if I ruin it with a bad paint job? What if you can’t see the detail because I glued on too many feathers? But he doesn’t look very life like just sitting there as a plain white form of a bird face. Your work should be appreciated, but he’s still a little bit dull.
And so is life if we stop working on it. We can stay as we are, but where’s the fun in that? And hey, you can always paint over a bad paint job if you hate it that much. You can always change your path.
My art therapist had a lot of different moulds to pick from. There was a bear, a horse, a fish (I almost picked the fish…he looked like Nemo), the bird, and different human faces of various ethnicities. She said nobody had picked an animal yet. Everyone has gone for the human faces. I have a theory and it’s only because of the thoughts that ran through my own head. The animals didn’t seem very art therapy-y. They’re more fun looking. I could see how a human face could be therapized into something meaningful…everyone wears a mask. So maybe people lean toward the human faces because they appear more therapy-y at face value (“face” value…see what I did there?). They’re also a lot easier.
But the final product doesn’t necessarily dictate the meaning behind a process. For me, this project was about keeping me out of trouble during a potentially dangerous time. It was about mindfulness (this takes a lot of concentration and focus). It was about giving me a tangible metaphor for life and the purpose of its messy nature. It was about giving me something to blog about this afternoon. It was about teaching me that it’s only through making a mess that you can create something really neat. Whether it’s in art or in life.
So I picked a bird instead of a human face. Maybe there’s something to be read into there. I don’t know. I’ll leave that to my art therapist to decide. I think for me, it’s been more about the process. And I’m not even halfway there!
I’d say that–so far–my time alone has been pretty positive. Eating full and regular meals is always a struggle when I’m by myself. I don’t know why, it just is. But I was given strict orders that I could not have an omelet for dinner every night and so far I’ve only had two. I bought a two piece bathing suit (quite an accomplishment for someone coming out of eating disorder treatment). I purchased two pairs of shorts (another wow). I’ve only watched three movies. I’ve cuddled with my cats. I’ve made strides toward advancing my education. I started a conversation with a stranger at Panera. I’ve attended all of my appointments. And I’ve exercised my creativity. Boom.
I’ve still been lonely. It’s hard to motivate myself at times. But that’s ok because I’m doing it anyway. And I’m learning that staying where you are is dull. Just like a roll of plaster cloth or a blank mask. It’s when you get your hands messy with wet plaster and colorful paint that things begin to get interesting and awesome again. After all…messy is neat.
(Also, I’m trying to think of a name for my bird. Thoughts?)