Making art

Yesterday I wrote how I struggled through to affirm the value of the positive experiences I was having at the cash register, even though they didn’t lift the punishing biochemical depression that had me in its grips.

But there was another dynamic at work.  On and off throughout the day – and especially towards the end of the day – as I was having these positive experiences and these miserable experiences, in my head I was writing about them…planning to write this post.  During my afternoon ten-minute break I wrote (dictated, actually, into the voice recorder in my phone) about them as fast as I possibly could.

So for much of the day I was operating on two tracks: on the level of my immediate physical/emotional/mental experience, I was having moments of release followed by the return of crushing contraction – but on another level, I was detached from all that…was observing it.  The writer in me was observing – was creating a state of mindfulness, where I was not caught in my experience but could stand outside of it and notice it.  And mindfulness is liberating – to the extent it was operating, part of me was free from the suffering that was still going on.

Once again I celebrate my old meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, who taught me lots more than I understand about mindfulness.

Once again I celebrate my old meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, who taught me lots more than I understand about mindfulness.

So writing can trigger mindfulness and that can be freeing.  There was one other way that writing this post in my head was freeing.  Writing is a major identity for me – it feels like a big part of my mission in this world.  And right now writing this blog – writing about my job, about customer service, about bipolar disorder – is at the heart of that mission for me.  So even while my biochemical/emotional/mental suffering continued unabated, part of me was happy – was doing a little dance.  “I’m writing.  I feared that this depression would keep me from writing, but it’s happening.  I may hurt like hell all day, but I’m going to come out of it with a pretty interesting blog post.  I may end the day as fully in the grips of biochemical contraction as I started, but – regardless of how late it may be (and I do have a meeting tonight), before I go to bed I am going to write.  Depression can’t take that away from me.”

And now, at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday that’s exactly what I’ve done.  I wrote Thursday’s post and this post to go up on Friday – and I feel good about both of them.  My body feels like crap, but my spirits are good.  I may feel lousy all over again tomorrow.  I don’t want to program myself to feel bad, but lots of hard experience tells me that this is likely.  But I have written.  I have found meaning in my experience.  I have created something that could possibly be helpful to somebody else.  I have transcended my pain.  I have made art.

8 thoughts on “Making art

    • Thanks Kathryn. This gives me heart. Knowing that my words are being read feels great – but hearing that they actually make a difference to you feels especially great. I hope they continue to help you.


  1. thank you for this. Very inspiring, and such a great and clear description of mindfulness practice, and the value/virtue of observing, dis-identifying from the experience. Really brilliant, and the key to ending suffering is described step by step. thank you love, Lorrie


    • Thanks Lorrie – wow, this really means a lot to me. I read it a week ago, but didn’t really absorb it. Now I’m more letting it in – and making a voice recording of this and other wonderful comments. And responding to people’s comments is also helping me to get them. Thanks.


  2. Hey MJ, I  always enjoy your writing, we’ve known each other for quite a few years now, huh? I have to say that the past 2 posts, or blogs I guess, are the most authentic voice I’ve ever heard you express. I know when you are depressed something inside you tells you that you are unloved and worthless. You are neither of those things to me or to many others. You have made so much progress in the past 2 years. Your hard, hard work is very evident. j


    • Johanna – One thing I’m committing to with the blog is to pay more timely attention to people’s comments and to respond to them. I just got back to yours, which touches me. yes we have known each other for a long time now – and known each other well. And you know my writing. Your encouragement that I’m finding my authentic voice means a lot to me. I feel that there is something really right with this blog and want to keep going. You know I mostly never feel unloved – there’s just too much evidence of the love of my friends. yet still I manage to feel alone. I don’t know what that’s all about – this curtain falls between me and others. But words like yours help to pull back that curtain. I’m making a recording of these comments that I can listen to in my down times. Thanks for that. Love, Majo


  3. yay, Majo, this is a tribute to mindfulness and the healing power of writing. Writing my memoir, The Memory Box, helped put my voice loss and many other experiences in perspective. I was able to find the blessings in the pain. And I’m delighted that your teacher – however old – is Thich Nhat Hanh – because he is mine as well. Saturday I did a retreat at Cloud Cottage feeling as if I was breathing with him in his hospital room. So peaceful. hugs, Kimberly


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