Depression may inspire creative bursts of energy once it’s gone, but, more often, I’ve found that giving into creativity has to happen before the depression can truly start to recede. Sometimes, that surrender starts with trying something new.
I recently stumbled onto a quote by Plutarch that goes, “Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” The quote has been rumbling around in my brain for a few days now, seemingly more accurate each time I recall it.
I often paint because I cannot find words that vent emotions without being destructive. Whether or not it leads to good or bad art is irrelevant. The creating on canvas is the path away from hurt and from hurting others.
Lately, I’ve been writing more and painting less (it goes in cycles), But there are still nights I struggle to distill ￼churning feelings and events into text. Last night, watching our orange tabby embrace his carefree, hedonistic identity and, as always, still wondering about my own, I got stuck between picking up a brush or opening the keyboard. Then, instead of sitting and stewing about it for another half hour until I was too tired to do anything useful, I got up and retrieved a journal from my office and decided to try something new.
I decided to try and make a painting that spoke.
I’ve written maybe three or four poems in the last seven years. It is certainly not a forte. As with the act of painting that leads me away from hurt and hurting, however, trying to write poetry was not about making something good, it was about actively surrendering to creativity.
Poem: The Business of Being
Fat, orange, arranged on the table
Like an idol on an altar,
The tabby invest his life, without reservation,
In the business,
Not of being born or changing or dying
But of being the libertine he is.
And I, still changing, still searching,
Craving substance, loathing indolence￼￼ but filled with envy,
Can feel the faith of one who’s found
A￼ business of being meant just for him.￼