“I really think that everyone should have watercolors, magnetic poetry, and a harmonica.”
That’s what Charlie says in the coming of age novel, The Perks Of Being A WallFlower. I think this comes very close to being literally true, but it is certainly symbolically true: everyone needs to possess the instruments of their creative self-expression, with the implied second part: everyone needs to creatively express themselves.
We harm ourselves when we keep things bottled-up inside. There is a pressure that builds up in a very real sense, and pressure, all throughout nature, stresses the system.
Sometimes we don’t know exactly what it is we are feeling until we express it. The greatest service a psychiatrist supplies is simply granting the client the stage for articulation of feelings. Once we can express what it is we’re feeling, we can begin to understand it and to accept it.
A tiny splinter, if left to fester in our skin, can cause us great pain. When the wound is examined and the miniscule offender is removed, we breathe easy and grin and say, “That’s all it was?”
Sometimes, we may not know that we have a splinter in our heart, but the pain is there. That is why creative self-expression is so important. We might be painting pictures or writing poetry or playing music, when suddenly we become aware that something is boiling up. Tears may even come into our eyes. Or perhaps, we still don’t see it there, the thing that has boiled up, and it takes some friend or stranger to look at are our creative output and describe what they see, someone who can interpret our selves to our selves.
Articulation of our feelings is vital to mental health, and since the mental state and the physical state are constantly influencing each other, articulation is also vital to our physical health.
At another point in The Perks Of Being A WallFlower, Charlie is told by his favorite teacher, Bill, that “we accept the love we think we deserve.”
If we are cramped inside, if we are pressured and stressed and not operating at our best, we will project a twisted version of ourselves into the world. If we think of a lover as that which best completes us, then if we are crooked or gnarled, the match we draw unto ourselves will not be correct. We will draw to ourselves a lover that complements our twisted projection, not our true self. And because the lovers do not truly fit together, there will be friction and wear in the relationship and things will not function smoothly.
But if we can work out the kinks inside ourselves through self-expression, we can expand into our own fullness, whatever shape that fullness may take. And then, we can attract that complementary piece that truly fits who we are. And it will be exactly the love and the lover that we deserve.
So take Charlie’s advice and get yourself some watercolors, some magnetic poetry, and a harmonica– and get messy, make nonsensical verse, and play some god-awful tune. And enjoy yourself. The first love you deserve is self-love.