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Art Saves

Art as a concept saves lives and everyone should make room for it in theirs. A short declaration but it is a true one, and I will passionately recommend the arts into one’s hearts and home. I know it is healing as I found myself healed and supported by art in its many forms during a very long, very painful time of need, and have seen it impact the lives of others and add to their own journeys of healing from grief and pain.

I am admittedly a lifelong artist, or at least artistic—a lover of drawing and writing so I have held this passion for a long time. I’ve always had a knack for color, design, and words, but all those talents seemed rather trivial after my family fell apart. After a long winding set of losses in our family that aggravated a drinking problem in my father, I, a fresh out of college scholar, was in effect left alone with him as his caretaker. It was a choice I partially made for myself, as I knew someone had to help him or else he would truly die.

The same losses that had triggered his drinking had made me just as sad, and between him and those stressors, I had no idea where to turn to. So I turned to what I did best – my art. I wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote plays, multiple plays even –  I wrote a screenplay. I wrote a comic to post online with my friend who drew the pictures. My output was incredibly high because I was able to find comfort and peace and centered thought while I was writing. By exploring and building the stories of flawed characters, like my father, like myself, and how they overcame their own troubles, they helped me heal too.

Luckily my father is a rare case of success, and after in patient treatment, he has, as of this writing, been sober for three years. He’s since taken up a hobby his own father did – drumming. He practices every day and is getting better and better at it. Art, in another form, that of music, has helped him heal and grow.

Frequently people associate true artistic genius or just artistic ability and talent with destructive and or moody personalities or circumstances – that “I’m not sad, so I can’t make great art” or “I’m just not very creative,”  and so believe they cannot tap into art’s healing abilities, and that is incredibly incorrect. While my case was creating art out of pain, my father today is creating art out of joy. You do not need true sadness in your life to be successful at art. Gardening and garden design is art. Baking and cooking is art. Sewing, crochet and knitting are all art too. Photography. Dancing. Anything that is expression is art, and you should reserve a good 30 minutes to an hour a day to it – it will always make your life better.

MJ Caplan writes from Maryland.

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About MJ Caplan

MJ Caplan

writes from Maryland.

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