This topic was being discussed recently with friends; we were actually talking about language however my mind wondered towards this question in the context of the world we find ourselves in right now. I am an expressive arts practitioner and so I turned to the expressive arts. We know where we come from because of our lived experience and our body can tell us when we are listening. Our boundaries and values also reflect this, but if I am honest, I am finding it hard at the moment to imagine what the future might look like because the present is so unfamiliar: So where am I going? Is anyone else experiencing this?
I used to be able to imagine, in what now seemed like a somewhat predictable world, where my future might go. I had goals and a carefully laid out plan. I can promise you that in 2015 I did not imagine in five years that I would find myself in the world I woke up in one morning in the beginning of 2020, a world that came to a grinding holt. When the world was forced to stand still, we saw reality for what it actually was. What emerged has been global upheaval and a shifting of consciousness. The world finally had the time, we literally have nothing but time in lockdown and for many, not much to lose after lockdown. It is beautiful and painful all at the same time to see the world right now and I feel honoured to witness this flexing of the collective power, there is community in change. May we one day soon wake up in a world where we can stand tall with more agency, compassion and love. But let me climb off my soap box and head back to the expressive arts: When the dust settles, we are going to need creativity to imagine where we will go from there.
I believe creativity is a muscle and the more you use it the stronger it will become. When we find ourselves stuck, it is our imagination and creative muscle that will help us imagine or find a way around what is standing in the way of our happiness. Never has there been a better time to have artmaking in your tool belt to exercise your creative muscle. Never has there been a better time to use art as a way of knowing - art making can be a process of inquiry leading to the emergent of knowledge. This is what expressive arts therapists and practitioners hold space for; the emergent of The Third as we call it, the emergence of knowledge, that “Aha” moment or as I am calling it “art of inner knowing” and may we all become artisans of our inner knowing!
We have the late and much-loved Paolo J. Knill, PhD to thank for being a pioneer and a founder of the Expressive Arts. He paved the way for The Third to have a space. He believed in the power of play and may we never stop playing in his honour. “Turn your shit into gold” as Paolo would say, and so many of my teachers whom he has trained. We have potential resources that lie within, from our human story. We have a wealth of inner knowing, we only need make space to have that conversation. The arts can hold this conversation but it is a conversation that depends on you being there, it’s a conversation that requires your attendance.
It is hard for adults to play because it is considered to be only for children. Does anyone remember making mud pies and pretending they were delicious? Mine had double chocolate frosting and if I were to imagine now, they are filled with delicious crème patisserie! We would do well to remember how to play so that we can develop this creative muscle again and be able to find creative solution when we believe we have none. Let us remember how to play, let us play in times of confinement.
We can honor our human story; where we have come from, and celebrate the potential of this “shift” we are experiencing in the world. Where are we going…? This is harder to answer and I tell myself; “It’s okay that I don’t necessarily know right now where I am going as long as I nurture myself along the way. Leave the comfort of discomfort at the door and use what makes you feel good as the guidelines”. I am activity encouraging myself to play more, to be curious, to look at the world in new ways. There is community in change or at least I am finding community in this change as I realise that it’s not just me that is going through this right now, quite literally every person on this planet is experiencing this pandemic. I came out of the first confinement asking myself what do i need to make it in this new world? What I heard was “connection”, what I desired was more connection but not just any old connection, connection in new and safe ways. I find myself rewriting how I do things on a daily basis. I desire to be more connected to myself, I am beginning to see this as a time to reimagine my future in new and exciting ways, ways that I could not have imagined possible before because I had not had this experience yet. There is a lot of surrendering and letting go that is required and as a girl who likes to have a plan, I am really having to embrace the “no plan plan”. Never has there been a better time to have art making in your tool belt, never has there been a better time to become an artisan of your inner knowing! This is my journey now
A thought piece by Destiny Sophia, M.A — @artofinnerknowing