Wil Wood
contributing writer

The night my mom died I laid in bed writhing in mental and emotional turmoil. I thought so many things at once but all I could feel was pain. I wrote a small story about my feelings, then fell asleep. Something about writing my thoughts eased the pain just enough.

In Ethan Hawke’s TED Talk he posed this question

“Do you think human creativity matters? Well, hmm. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about poetry. Right? They have a life to live, and they’re not really that concerned with Allen Ginsberg’s poems, or anybody’s poems until their father dies; they go to a funeral; they lose a child; somebody breaks their heart. And all of a sudden, they’re desperate to make sense out of this life and wonder, ‘Has anybody ever felt this bad before? How did they come out of this cloud?’

“Or the inverse — something great. You meet somebody and your heart explodes. You love them so much, you can’t even see straight. You know, you’re dizzy. ‘Did anybody feel like this before? What is happening to me?’ And that’s when art’s not a luxury, it’s actually sustenance. We need it.”

As humans, we are desperate to understand others and to be understood. Over 45,000 years ago humans were making stencils of their hands in caves screaming from the past, ‘We were here!’ I believe that anything manifesting self-expression is art. Psychologist Jennifer Finlayson- Fife said, “Our capacity for intimacy, to know and be known, is highly linked to our willingness to honestly confront who we are, and who we are not yet.”

Art does not need to be published, posted on Instagram, or even hung on a refrigerator. Art is the tool we use to explore our souls. The creation of it benefits the artist. However, sharing it can benefit the partaker. But sharing your art is scary.

Let’s turn to the queen of vulnerability, Brené Brown. She said, “We all grew up with varying degrees of trauma. Then we armored up, and at some point, that armor no longer serves us. The weight of the armor is too heavy, and it’s not protecting you. It’s keeping you from being seen and known by others. This is the developmental milestone of midlife. It’s not a crisis, it’s a slow, brutal unraveling of everything we thought was protecting us is keeping us from becoming the best partners, the parents, the professionals, the people that we want to be.”

Here is your challenge: Shed the armor that protects people from knowing who you really are. Stop doing the things that numb your feelings so you don’t have to pay attention to them. Sit in the quiet outside so you can hear them more clearly speak to you. When we know ourselves better, we will understand others better. When we all have more understanding, love will abound and we will have more than prehistoric stencils or even books of poems, because it will be written in our hearts. Like Paul said, “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”

To start us off, and as a token of my vulnerability, here’s a poem I wrote:

I want to catch a moment
And hold it by its ears.
I want to catch a moment
But it will take me years,
to make another one just like it
I’d have to re-live all my fears.

To make another one just like it
I’d have to re-cry all my tears.
I want to catch a moment,
and hold on real tight.
I want to catch a moment,
but they’re always on the flight.

Moments are like water;
I can play in it all day.
But when I try to hold it
It all just slips away.
That’s the thing about moments,

They come, and then they’re gone.
To really love a moment let it breathe,
And don’t hold on.