Opening my Gmail this morning, I landed on a message from my daughter containing a link to the article How Not to Be Alone by Jonathan Safran Foer, saying it reminded her of me. I was deeply touched by this gesture, and it reminded me of all the cancer survivors I have worked with and of our small art and healing communities, where we begin to unravel our complicated webs of life. To hold an intimate conversation about what matters is “messy and painful and difficult” and joyously rewarding. To lend an attentive ear and a welcoming heart, all within an art studio, is the stuff a good life is made of.
Addressing the emotional work it takes to be present and how we lazily impart more information than speak of our humanness, Mr. Foer reminds us:
We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes. Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult.
This is where we begin to “wrestle with the questions of purpose and wrestle with our answers.”
When we receive a cancer diagnosis, the emotions we experience are overwhelming — so overwhelming that it’s difficult to even form the words to describe our feelings. We can begin to feel very alone, locked up inside ourselves. It takes time to reach into our inner lives and unlock all of the implications of a cancer diagnosis. An attentive ear is helpful, as is a blank journal ready to receive our wild ramblings. What is important is to be observant of ourselves and express the rumble within. Whether through unedited journaling, free-wheeled painting, or fierce-cutting collage, beginning to unabashedly express our inner lives is vital to our healing process and paramount towards living an authentic life.
How does your inner life find expression? Share your ideas with us below.