Dealing with Emotion

As a creative person, I am extremely sensitive.  I see and feel things differently than most.  I have learned, in a lot of ways, to be self-protective where I can…I don’t watch certain kinds of movies, or read some genres of books.  Being highly visual, I have found that some images, once they are introduced to me, I have a difficult time getting back out of my head.  I count it as part of the ‘price’ of being an artist, and I put up certain boundaries to keep me in a safe mental state.

The events of Connecticut are weighing heavily on me, as well as everyone else, I am sure.  As a former educator, it isn’t hard for me to superimpose my classroom over that scene.  “My” kids.  “My” room.  Shots heard.  I won’t paint the picture here, it’s too painful and isn’t productive.  But I can see my students in the faces of the victims, and feel the horror of it all.  With my visual brain, I can concoct what the room must have looked like: before, during and after the gunman did what he did.  Having people close to me who deal with mental illnesses, I can even relate on some level to the gunman’s mom.   (One perspective, beautifully written, can be read here.) 

I am grateful today I do not have children that I can gaze upon, and try to rap my head around losing them in such a way.  I am not sure I could handle it.

Yesterday was especially bad.  I couldn’t escape the television.  I couldn’t turn away from it.  As I went to go to sleep, a fruitless effort, I realized I needed to take some measures, or drown in this.

So today I made myself leave the t.v. off.  I got in my car, and took myself on an artist’s date to the aquarium.  I made myself sit in front of the tanks and draw.

IMG_3368I forgot my colored pencils, so I had to stick to black and white.  The grouper from the big tank hung out and I made myself watch him filter water through his gills.IMG_3370 I observed the stingray’s eye closely. IMG_3372I made myself look at details, focus on patterns, invest in these little creatures.  I noted the way the light glittered across scales.  I watched as the fish interacted with each other.IMG_3374

IMG_3371The lionfish was facing me, and it was a humorous angle, so I made myself draw it.  It was really dark in that area of the aquarium, but I did it anyway.  As I watched, another fish forced its way under the lionfish’s armpit and hung out there.  Even more cute.  I added him in the drawing, wondering why he wasn’t concerned about the lionfish spines.

They helped me be in a different place for awhile.


Sometimes I just focused in on the part of the animal that interested me, like the left side of this page.  I put in headphones, to drown out the aquarium music and the voices of the other viewers.  I cocooned.

Did this exercise “cure” anything?  No.   It did help me, on some levels.  It calmed me, brought me back to center, and reminded me that I have to keep my perspective and guard my heart.  When I turn on the television tomorrow, the noise will start up again.  This tragedy still took place.  The photos of those lost will again be before my eyes.  The debates about gun control will rage.  The arguments about mental health and the frustrations of lack of any real cure will be wrestled.  But allowing all of that to penetrate my psyche so intensely, to wipe me out emotionally, to mistrust every stranger and to weep for every child as I learn about their individual personalities…isn’t helping anyone.  It doesn’t reach those effected and it is damaging me.   I have to remember that these people will be mourned best by those who loved them best.  I care–I do.  But in this, I am helpless.

Here’s what I can do:  I can send them my prayers.  I can continue to create art, that I believe, somehow projects out into the world beauty, love, peace, grace, purpose.  I can appreciate my people, the young ones I can hug, the hands I can hold.  I can hold in my heart compassion for those hurting.  I can support those who are working to make this world a better place.  I can promote peace.

I challenge you, dear reader, to do the same.




~ by collidescopes on December 19, 2012.

2 Responses to “Dealing with Emotion”

  1. Beautifully written and important to remember. Thank you for reminding us to find our centers…. Love you

  2. Love this!!! Very well said my friend! Hugs!

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