I wasn’t going to write this week. It’s been an unusual week. However, I seem to be becoming more emotional as time goes on. Not in an unstable sort of way. I just feel a lot. Both in terms of depth of emotion and frequency of occurrences. I suppose the correct way to say it is that I’m more empathetic and more connected. Today, I experienced such a range of emotions in one day, that I felt the only thing to do was to write. So, here I am.
I’m going to recount this morning’s encounter as vaguely as possible, in order to respect the privacy of the individuals involved. As I was going through my emails and prioritizing my work for the day, I was contacted by a friend who told me that someone of their acquaintance had come out to them as being demisexual and they were able to provide that person with resources to help because of what I had previously shared with them. (If you are the individual mentioned here, no names or descriptions were given to me. You have not been outed. You absolutely can trust this person.)
Cue the feels. All at once, I felt proud of my friend for creating a safe place for someone else, happy that the person was able to get resources specifically tailored for them, proud of myself for having been brave enough to be vocal about my own identity, validated that I am on the right path, and resolved in my belief that representation and access to resources are vitally important in our society. Crying seemed to be my only option in that moment. I’m a cryer anyway. I happy cry, sad cry, anger cry, laugh cry, nervous cry, all of it. When faced with so many simultaneous powerful emotions, it was inevitable. I had to take a break from work for a bit, just to feel.
This afternoon, again going through my emails, I came across one from Brooklyn Art Library. I had created a sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project in 2020. That was some time ago, so I was curious as to why they were contacting me. I opened the email to read that, while in transit to an exhibition at the end of February, the sketchbook trailer caught fire. Approximately 7,000 sketchbooks were destroyed (about 30% of the entire collection). They do not yet know the full extent of the damage.
I couldn’t fully process the enormity of the emotions I felt upon reading that. Sadness, concern, devastation, loss, overwhelm. Again, all I could do was cry. Interestingly, I wasn’t even feeling sad or concerned for my own work at all. I remembered reading that they have sketchbooks from all over the world and from artists of all ages. My immediate thought was that these lost sketchbooks are irreplaceable. I felt such tremendous loss for those artists whose work was destroyed. I know what it is to put a part of your soul into something, to hope that it will inspire or encourage others. The idea of that part of your soul no longer existing but in memory… I just don’t have the words.
I do understand that the sketchbooks are ephemeral (as most things, if not all things, are), but when something like this happens, it just brings that to the forefront for me. Art has always been my healer. It has saved me. Whether through my writing, by hearing someone else play piano, or any number of other things. As I’ve said, I feel a lot. I often cry at the beauty of Beethoven‘s Moonlight Sonata or van Gogh‘s Starry Night. It is impossible for me to describe the relationship I have with art.
We had our company quarterly meeting two days ago. Ironically, or perhaps it was fated, Fund for the Arts presented on their mission. They have a number of projects and programs going, but the overarching theme is that we are all artists. Additionally, we all participate in and experience art, whether or not we realize it. Do you listen to the radio while you drive? You are experiencing art. Do you sing along? You are creating art. The speaker closed by encouraging us all to find our art. For me, that is primarily writing.
Fragmented though my day may seem, I think both the positive and negative experiences illustrate the necessity of awareness. Both experiences also taught me that my work on my emotional reaction is paying off. Even with the depth of these emotions today, I didn’t identify with a single one of them. I experienced and observed. I wasn’t proud, I felt proud. I wasn’t happy, I felt happy. I wasn’t sad, I felt sadness. I wasn’t devastated, I felt devastation.
That isn’t to say I didn’t feel them at all. I absolutely did. I just didn’t live in that emotion. I felt it, experienced it, and let it pass. It wasn’t even consciously done at the time. I only realized much later that I had succeeded in not identifying with the emotion. I think it’s because of this that the sadness of the afternoon didn’t negate the happiness of the morning. I am smiling even now.
I used to believe that feeling so much was a curse. I’m starting to realize that it’s a blessing. The key is learning to protect yourself from overstimulation. That’s what I’m working on now by learning to observe emotions and to channel them creatively. Just one more way that art is beneficial.