Updated: Jan 29, 2021
If you really want to know how the youth in your town feels, I would encourage you to let them paint the streets, and observe the colors they use and images they create. If you really want to know what the youth in your town really needs, I would encourage you to let them play music in the streets, and to stop and listen to the songs they sing.
I once heard a story that absolutely fascinated me, from a woman I know who is a therapist, and works primarily with using talk as a way to help people heal.
One day a young teenage girl came into her office, and in her hand she had a painting. She showed the painting to this therapist, it was black and gray and dark in color, all the while she never spoke a word, and once she felt the painting had been truly observed, she left. She returned once a week after that, every week showing her therapist another painting, but never speaking a word, as the weeks went by. Her paintings began to brighten up slowly, until in the last session, they where blooming with life and a variety of color. When her paintings reached this place of life, she stopped going to therapy.
This story really makes me stop and consider the power of art, to truly express ourselves. To truly feel seen and as if we are part of the external world and connected to it, as a pose to feeling alone and isolated. I feel a huge variety of the healing and self help world regards art as a positive thing, a hobby like sport or exercise to help us keep busy and build our confidence, which is all true, but I don't believe we give it the extent of credit it truly deserves. I believe art not to be a "side therapy" but an absolute ultimate therapy for some.
When we look at trying to cultivate well being we must first look at a time when we truly felt well, as a being.
As children, all we did was play and create and paint and draw and sing and dance, all day. We were filled with wonder, fascinated by color and all we wanted to do was express at the most fundamental level. I believe this is the highest state of being, the state of pure freedom and connection to the world, art is a direct way for us to reconnect with this sacred part of ourselves on a daily basis as adults and because most of our pain as human beings is also cultivated in childhood when we are most sensitive to the world, I find it rather odd that all healers and all institutions are not at least semi focused on making sure all people are connected to there creative side.
Can you image what would happen to the world, if the police where trained using art therapy and therapy in general?
Can you imaging the smiles on peoples faces if they saw the council out on the streets getting involved with troubled teens as they wrote songs and painted murals on walls?
Can you image how much love and the amazing breakthroughs prison inmates would have if there cells where bright in color and music played all day?
If they were made, not to wallow but to paint and write poems? If they were made to meditate, not obsess over their crimes and childhoods traumas in a gray hole for years?
And can you image the kind of people we would then be letting back out into the world?
If we want to heal the broken child in troubled or abusive adults, the door we're looking for is letting them be children again, and the key to that door is getting creative, I believe that if this part of us that is wondrous and expressive didn't get suppressed by silly laws and schools in the first place, we wouldn't have half as much crime in the world, or half as much suffering.
When we suffer, we feel disconnected, alone and isolated. There can be no suffering when there is a sense of connection. But because we experience the world through a lens of our own experience as a single being, in order to connect to the world and heal we must first become reconnected to ourselves. This means that this process of healing or becoming our best self's and feeling our own infinite potential, must be viewed as a process from within to without, and when we create something, we literally bring that thing into existence, whether it be a masterpiece or a blob, a song or a sentence, we are literally painting ourselves into the universe and the world. There can be no better shortcut to connecting to our selves and therefore connecting to the world around us, and as we create we inspire the work of others and many more to come.
Art has no beginning or ending, it just continues from one melody to whole new genres and albums, to whole new communities and experiences. These are things that make people feel alive, connected and whole.
This is a sacred time in our world as holistic therapies and deeper understandings of the human being and human suffering emerge, this is time when art and expression need the attention they deserve for creating happy healthy communities and societies, But happy and healthy individuals more importantly. It all starts from within. This is a time where the people in power need to begin to pay attention to the cries of the youth who are committing suicide by the day, going to prison by the week and becoming addicts by the minute. This is a time when schools, town councils and governments need to wake up, stop talking and start listening. The key to these epidemics lies in the souls of the children who still live in all of us, waiting to be heard, waiting to run and sing and splash color on the world. Stop making children sit still in school, stop choosing extra math over extra art, start playing music in the hallways.
Let the people create so much that the only space left to display will be the streets and corridors, be open to another kind of world that doesn't change but only complements the one we currently have.
Start in your home, in your town, and make the world a brighter place. Literally.
If you really want to know how the youth in your town feels, I would encourage you to let them paint the streets, and observe the colors they use and images they create.
If you really want to know what the youth in your town needs, I would encourage you to let them play music in the streets, and to stop and listen to the songs they sing.