Creativity or Insanity?

My oldest brother is a talented musician, who has been composing and recording works in his own studio for years.

“I just can’t write lyrics worth a damn,” he once told me during a visit.

“I write poetry,” I offered, “but have no musical aptitude.”

“We should put your words and my music together!”

So I sent him home with a copy of my latest creations.  Time passed and I didn’t hear anything from him – nothing out of the ordinary – and then a year later he was visiting again.

“Did you ever do anything with the poetry I gave you?” I asked eagerly.

“Well,” he paused, looking for the right words.  “About that…I really couldn’t find anything I could work with…I mean…your poetry’s so dark…have you ever thought about seeing a shrink?”

We laughed, and I let it drop.  That was nearly two decades ago – I was going through a rough patch – and admittedly, raging against life.  I stopped writing poetry, or anything at all.

Then a few years back, I discovered the blogging world, and armed with new inspiration, gave myself permission to start again.  First, I wrote anecdotal stuff – life lessons, inspiration, or comical happenings – but it wasn’t long before the poetry re-emerged, and took over my blog (forcing me to start this new one).

Some of my creations are lighthearted, but for the most part, they belie a seriously sinister underbelly – as if I am confessing to not be the cheery, upbeat person I portray to the outer world.

Many times, in that moment between editing and clicking “publish” my brother’s words come back to haunt me:  I do appear to be in need of psychiatric help.

Poems, I tell my friends and loved ones, are like photographs:  they capture a single moment in a sea of many; they are not representative of the whole.

And yet, they appear to be conveying some truth – be it personal or societal (the latter is what I am striving for) – and I cannot deny ownership.  Is this just the nature of art, I wonder, or am I truly damaged?

I’ll have to ask my shrink, next time I see her.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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