Human expression. Human beings are such emotional and expressive souls. We truly are. Emotions are the very facets of life - the ones which really define us as people. As such, it is very important for us to learn how to understand our emotions. To learn how to control them (especially the most vibrant ones!), and to learn how to express them (and in the right way too, whatever that is!). It's almost a basic need, and a compulsion, for us to share our emotions. All of this helps us to grow, and allows us to begin the process of understanding our own souls. Only by understanding our own souls (or, at the very least, by beginning to understand them) can we ever hope to understand the souls of others and move towards connecting with other people.
I think we are always trying to find new ways to express ourselves in life. Finding new forms of expression, through our emotions and our experiences - searching for a means in which to share our soul. Without that, we are nothing. Art is one such means of sharing - art is a powerful tool of expression, and a powerful way for us to connect. Are not paintings, poetry, and music, and radio, television, and film, all forms of expression? Art doesn't even end there, and it doesn't even have to be art. It can be the simple act of bumping into someone, whilst walking in the street or at the shops. And talking on the telephone (even though I'm hopeless on it!), or meeting for a chat in the local coffee shop (or 'Chocolate Bar'!), might just seem like ordinary everyday occurences, but both are still forms of expression. You are expressing yourself and connecting on a really personal level. Even this very writing blog is expressive - it's me expressing myself! All of these examples, and more, are the result of our desire (our need and compulsion?) to express ourselves. Our desire to connect with each other, as human beings.
Let's look at art, at paintings. Vincent Van Gogh, who was a tortured genius, is my favourite artist. It's because he was (and still is) all about emotion and experience and expression - so often for me, his paintings capture how life truly feels, in a unique and sensual way. Like Van Gogh, we are all 'mad' and 'sane', trying to balance ourselves between the two, as we live our everyday lives. Human beings are a balance of contradictions. That's one reason why I really dislike the term 'normal', I dislike it quite intensely, as there is no clear definition of 'normal' that will ever fully satisfy me. What is 'normal'? Why create a spectrum of 'normal'? Why try to categorise people? It drives me mad! It drives me insane! We are all just people trying to make sense of the world around us. Trying to make sense of ourselves. We are, each of us, unique individuals with something unique to give humanity as a whole. That is what matters the most. How our individuality contributes to the whole. Van Gogh used paintings (beautiful, colourful paintings!) to try and understand himself. And he helps us to understand the world better too. Van Gogh's paintings don't just show how the world looks to your eyes, they relate how the world feels to your soul. It's such a tragedy that Van Gogh's paintings didn't enable him to overcome his own inner demons. It is though, a triumph that they have given so much in peace and joy to other people, and helped them in some way, big or small. Particularly so where he's helped others to overcome their demons. I include myself as one of those people, that Vincent Van Gogh has helped in such a way. To me, that is a beautiful thing.
That is what I hope I am able to do with my poetry, and my other pieces of writing (including this blog). I have learned to understand myself better through writing, especially through writing my poetry. It helps me to sort out my emotions, and my thoughts, those fragments of mind that whirr around endlessly inside my head. Writing allows me to rationalize them all, to understand them. And if I can learn to understand myself better, and I can learn to express myself better, then I can learn to connect with other people better, and come to understand them better too. Poetry helps me to do that - in a way that I wouldn't have believed possible several years ago. I was diagnosed autistic as an adult, I was diagnosed with Asperger's. I drop the syndrome, which is entirely my choice, as I don't see anything wrong with myself. I'm just different, I'm just unique, and I don't have struggles, I have challenges. I accept that while this works for me, it may not work for others, but it is how I feel. I am not controlled by my autism - I am in control of my autism. I accept it's there, and that it's part of me (and it's answered so many questions), but I've set myself the challenge of not living up to a label, I have no need of one. I do feel that it's one label, amongst many, that is used far too often in the world today. Again, that is just my opinion, and in different circumstances it might well be different (and rightly different too). I am me, and that is that. I have good days, and I have bad days. I deal with them both. Some things in life are there to challenge us. The secret is in the way we face them - putting on a brave face and finding a way to smile.
I went through some very difficult years, and then, through writing poetry, I started to find myself, and I started to learn who I was. I am still learning, and it is an enjoyable life experience. I am in a happy place in my life. Music played a great part in that, as well as writing poetry. Let's look at music as an art-form. Poetry and music can often be entwined together for me, music has certainly inspired my poetry. Two Simon and Garfunkel songs have inspired poems that I've written. 'Homeward Bound' inspired my poem 'The Journey Home', a poem about travelling, it's pitfalls (at times) and the longing to get (or be) home that that can entail. I wrote it as a poem for people on a journey, to give comfort and hope (with warmth, and a little chuckle along the way), that home is aways in your heart, wherever you happen to be. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' inspired 'Hope from Lonely Despair', about a very dark and difficult time, and how the bridge that brought me to safety was a very true friend, leading me ultimately to hope. It's not just music that inspires me, but other people's writing too (and sometimes with alcohol!). One of my poems was inspired by listening to the Dire Straits song 'Brothers in Arms', reading sonnets by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and drinking Banana Bread Beer! That conjured up many different feelings in my head! A case of mixing my mood at the time, with what I was seeing, and hearing, and feeling. The poem that resulted is called ‘Tears of Melancholy & Tranquillity’, and it is largely about the two components of life - the extremes of happiness and sadness, and the places between them. I likened this to a rainbow - you have to put up with a little ‘rain’, heavy or light (and thunder and lightning in the middle, sometimes) to get the true colour, and the full beauty, of the ‘bow’. This is very much the way that I am starting to feel about life.
We all find ways of expression, and poetry is mine. Writing is my strength, by which I live!
A FOOTNOTE - If any of my writing here appears complex, it is because it's a complex subject. Life is never just black and white, and that adds to the complexity. My writing tries to reflect that. The only thing I ever ask is that my writing causes someone to think. Thinking is important. So don't worry if you don't quite understand something that I've written (my mind is a contradiction!) - what matters most is that it's provoked a wonderful and amazing thought of your own (whatever that is!). Ideas provoke thoughts, thoughts provoke new ideas, and that is human progress.
I wanted to leave my readers with an 'ultimate', 'powerful', form of expression to ponder over. 'The Ridge', by Danny Macaskill, is something extraordinary and amazing - it is expression in the extreme. It shows what humans can do, if they put their minds to it. And even if you've seen it before, it is definitely worth a re-watch. I will leave you all with that.
"I AM ME, AND THAT IS ALL. I WILL NOT BE PIDGEON-HOLED INTO A CATEGORY OF 'NORMAL'. BY ANYONE. AT ANYTIME. OR ANYWHERE."
"I AM UNIQUE, AND PROUD TO BE SO"