I left class an emotional wreck yesterday! Where did this surge of emotions come from? Of course, I have intimate relationships with people with disabilities but I have never had such a strong response to this kind of conversation. Maybe it had to do with a subject that no one is comfortable discussing. Death. So why did I cry? Men don’t cry. At least masculine heterosexual men don’t (shew…I dodged that bullet). But I still feel so ashamed. Public emotional displays seem to make everyone uncomfortable. I might be over exaggerating things. Regardless, I don’t think I am ready to publish my feelings about yesterday’s discussion, but I continue to engage them.
I found it interesting that our discussion of Nancy Mairs’s piece about reconnecting the body with the mind only focused on writing. Maybe it was our academic context, but the arts were missing from the conversation. At times, I find writing to be incredibly limiting. Language is limited in its meaning and syntax. We are constantly interpreting and coding our experiences through our language. Is it possible for the body and the mind to reconnect within the linguistic restrictions? I think language can be a powerful way to create relationships between others and the self. However, there should also be an emphasis on non-verbal dialogue. I have had experience with art therapy in the past and found it freeing. At the basic level, each activity strived to inspire and liberate our mind while stimulating our body. Art seems to encourage interpretations of your reality. Yes, writing also has these liberating qualities but our culture values language over the arts. Our educational system is set up to emphasize math and English but fails to fund the arts. If there is an equal emphasis on creativity and logic, maybe the self would not be plagued to such dualities (mind/body). As Andrea Avery writes, “Regret doesn’t have a place in my relationship with my body … and so I insist on co-writing my history on my body” (265). She insists upon ownership of herself. While her body may not be under her control, she seeks other ways to co-write her life experience. Even in Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay, I think there is a failure to recognize creativity. In describing what can only be called a “gift bag” she writes, “A tote distributed to breast cancer patients … contains … a pink-striped “journal and sketch book,” and – somewhat jarringly – a small box of crayons” (46). I understand her argument that our culture pushes to belittle a woman’s maturity and independence through the constant bombardment of pink/pretty images. However, her reaction to the crayons and sketchbook provides more insight into cultural values of personal expression. Only a child would draw a picture to express feelings. Adults use words. Even her critique of how women with breast cancer enter into a childlike dress up game seems to parallel this same idea. I do not want to appear too idealistic, but I think a greater emphasis on the arts and creativity can start to bridge the gap between the mind and the body.
I’ve linked three documentaries about art therapy. I wasn’t able to find the one I was specifically looking for (simply called Art Therapy), but these are also great.
Vodpod videos no longer available.