The making of art is something we do naturally as children but by the time we reach adulthood, most of us are firmly convinced we can't draw a straight line. Which, I believe, is a sad and regrettable waste. Especially when we come to realise, as I have, that art and art-making are pleasurable and life-enhancing acts and are inherently healing.
In my deepest, darkest moments - heartbreak, the death of my parents, betrayal, depression - and long before I knew there even was such a thing as art therapy and way before I studied art, I turned to drawing, painting, colouring-in, collage, making something with my hands. Instinctively. Unknowingly. As I see it now - luckily!
Art therapy has the capacity to make the unconscious conscious, the invisible visible. It enables us to make connections which are difficult, if not impossible, to grasp intellectually.
Having been a traveller for much of my life, keeping a travel journal becomes second nature. The world has a tendency to seem more exciting and interesting when one is in a foreign country. To see oneself as foreign territory, equally as exciting and interesting is, I believe, the first step in coming home to oneself and living a life that fits with who we are as unique and individual human beings. Carl Jung expressed this sentiment well and it is something I find to be more true, the older I get. “We carry within us the wonders we seek without; there is all Africa and her prodigies in us.”
Combining the act of journaling and the act of journeying, the interaction between the two, enables us to establish a direct relationship between our internal and external realities.
Life as a Journey:
Walking across an entire country is one of those things that I look back upon with pride and a degree of astonishment. Walking those six hundred kilometres across Spain was a journey that added immeasurably to my understanding of my own life's journey. The journey as a metaphor for life is found in most cultures and spiritual traditions. That the Camino is a physical journey which also enables and encourages an inner journey lends itself to this metaphor in both a literal and symbolic sense.
Many of the difficulties we encounter in life are brought about by how we respond to change. Change is inevitable and a natural part of life - which does not necessarily make it any easier to deal with. The fact that today our lives change so rapidly and that quite often this change is totally out of our control, can lead to emotional stress and strain. And sometimes, under sufficient stress and strain, we break. This too, is a natural response to pressure.
The language of journey - crossroads, choosing a direction, paths, sidetracks, shortcuts, turning points, meanderings, getting lost, searching, destination - is rich and has direct application to the journey of life itself. One of the most obvious connections between a journey and a life is that both have a beginning and an end, both are finite. Accepting and facing our own mortality can be a great gift. Living our lives with an awareness of death makes for different decision-making, different priorities, a different set of values.