I completed a four-year arts (English) program at a university not typically or prominently known for such. Most of my friends were in science programs and I became known as the “artsy” one. I fit neatly into that label and I felt comfortable knowing what I was. When I left that world behind the waters became a bit muddier. I had to stretch a little and figure out where else I could fit and who else I could be. It all became a little less definitive and I’ve struggled to maintain balance between the left and right sides of my brain.
My job doesn’t leave much room for the right side to move and grow. I’m stretching and learning in different ways and it’s been good for me but I’ve noticed that the right side that holds my creativity at its center, often gets left behind. I’m encouraged to nurture a calm analytic approach instead. I worry that the more it gets left behind, the easier it will get for me to forget how to use it.
Last weekend I had a dream that left me a little confused and a little worried. I dreamt that I was pregnant. We’re talking like full-bellied with child. I woke up sweating. Naturally my response was to look it up in the dream dictionary online. Apparently women commonly dream they’re pregnant when they lack creativity in their lives. When not creatively producing or focusing energy, it can feel like there’s a void because there’s no outlet to channel the creative juices and the right side of the brain is sitting stagnant. That tipped the scales. I picked up the phone and called the creative art center located just near my house, and I signed up for my very first art class. Scary.
The first of ten sessions took place this morning. It’s a basics and beyond course so it’s a mix of artists at every level. I quickly learned that what this really means is, most of the people in the class are seriously advanced. Their work was phenomenal and I felt out of place. For the first time, the “artsy” shoe didn’t fit. As the instructor talked about brush types and techniques I felt the gap widening. I noticed every person had an art caddy at their station loaded up with supplies they’d brought along for the class. Some had easels set up with paintings that looked like masterpieces. My illusions of grandeur dissipated. I spent the entire 3 hour session getting used to the pencils and their depth and shading. I learned different drawing techniques and at one point grew frustrated enough that the teacher told me I needed to take a break and come back to it. At this point a lovely woman by the name of Susan approached me and asked how I was doing. She said “You know sometimes when we don’t give the right side of our brain legs because we get too caught up in the necessity of life, it atrophies like an under-used muscle. You have to trust in the process of focusing and learning how to channel your creativity again because the process is what makes the outcome feel so incredible”. She smiled and went back to drawing and I just sat there thinking about what she’d said.
I went to that class hoping to learn how to draw and use different watercolour techniques. I expected to be great immediately. I expected to learn exactly what I set out to learn and nothing else. I forgot that the creative process is so much more than what I lay out on a page- that there’s little pieces of me in all of it and that’s what makes it wonderful and also difficult. I didn’t realize that in all of this, there’s a very real possibility that I might extend beyond life’s shoulds and find me again.