We believe in the power of the creative process to strengthen the spirit: this has been Inside Out Community’s inspirational slogan since the charity’s beginnings in 2003. There is an almost indefinable strength that enables us to keep going when faced with the challenges of life: the disappointments, the traumas, the hardships, the conflicts, the losses that inevitably arise in any life. But sometimes they can be overwhelming and we become dispirited and despairing. At times like these we need to find ways to strengthen our spirit so that we can regain the resilience and resolve to see things through. The arts can help!
I am a great believer in the power of beauty to help us transcend troubled times in our lives. Seeking beauty wherever it can be found can have an immediate and lasting effect on our sense of wellbeing. The Rothko room at Tate Modern; Stings ‘Fields of Gold’; Mary Oliver’s poem ‘Trees’ ; Mozart’s ‘Requiem’, these are some of the experiences that work for me; you will I’m sure, find your own if you look and listen with an open heart. I remember once sitting in a tiny church in Kent (All Saints Tudely) in which all the stained glass windows are by Chagall. They are stunningly beautiful and on a bright day you are bathed in the most wonderful blues and greens as the light streams through. It was a time when a period of darkness had settled on my life and finding the strength to continue was difficult. I entered the church burdened and despondent and left lighter and more hopeful. Perhaps we don’t need to analyse the effect of beauty too much; a kind of alchemy seems to takes place in the presence of beauty that can transform dark to light.
But it is not only being a recipient of the arts that works this magic; being creative can also raise and strengthen the spirit. Writing a poem or a piece of prose; painting and drawing; singing or making music can free us from those ‘mind forged manacles’ that at times seem to hold our imagination and spirit captive. To be absorbed in a creative activity, be that art, writing, or singing, releases us from the preoccupations of our everyday life, releases the tensions that block the flow of energy and opens us to the innate spark creativity that lives within us all. The creative imagination enables us to change how we view things and how we feel. To create an image, be that a visual or a written image can draw us from the prison of depression or oppression and give us hope and inspiration.
At times I have found the trials of life hard to bear and have been touched by the deadening hand of depression. And often I have found in the poetry that has come to me – like a gift, some comforting or inspirational thought. Depression is indeed like winter in the psyche…. it may be long and hard but spring always comes.
If only I could open my eyes at the dawn of the day and feel renewed and alive. If only I could enter the world anew – a kind of rebirth, breathe and be filled with the joyful anticipation of living. There is much to be thankful for: the light is returning; the snowdrops have emerged from the chilled and blanched earth; the blackbird is rehearsing his spring rhapsody; soon the trees will unfurl their cloaks of green.
The resolute pulse of nature beats. Simply live it seems to say; be what you are here to be , human!