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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Making Sense of the Sublime

"The Body Remembers" - Amy Oestreicher 2015
 Hey everyone - I'd love to introduce to you my very first guest blogger, Jacki Christopher!  Today, Jacki's writing about a very powerful topic and I am honored to be able to post it here. 

Making Sense of the Sublime
By Jacki Christopher 

“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful—for all of it.” —Kristin Armstrong

I wrote my way through eating disorder recovery, through love, through heartbreak, through childhood pain, father issues, frustration, uncertainty, fear and loneliness. I wrote to try to make sense of a life that felt like it made no sense. And writing is good for that. It is a firm shoulder to lean upon and a forgiving ear upon which we heap the confessions and the complaints, the cries for mercy and the charge that this life is simply not fair.

We write to get through It. We write to get better, to make sense of suffering, to come out the other side, to reconnect with our lost selves. I have written for all of these reasons. It has been cathartic, therapeutic, healing and revealing.
As Neil Gaiman said in his famous commencement speech, Make Good Art, “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”

The impulse to make art out of pain is a good one. And actually it isn’t always an impulse, certainly not the first one. Sometimes the stronger pull is toward a bottle of wine or another destructive relationship to really put the icing on the cake of your last breakup. Sometimes we don’t want to work it out, we want to check out. But the more we reach for art (rather than fill-in-the-vice), the more available it is as a sharpened tool for tackling the wreckage when things fall apart.
And in the process, something unexpected happens. The practice of scrawling out the emotional vomit sets us up for something else. It cracks us open to notice, to become present, to feel what we genuinely feel. And as we become attuned to noticing and reflecting upon the things in life that are so painfully wrong, we reap a side benefit: the acuity to perceive when things are so wonderfully right.

I have, for the past several months, been writing for a different kind of therapy; I have been writing to make sense of the sublime. It is a quest to parse serendipity, to figure out why the cosmos moved in my favor when it completely didn’t have to, to puzzle out beauty and delight and joy. The writing goes beyond connecting me to myself; it connects me to something bigger and greater and more wonderful as I try to figure out not why things fell apart, but why they came together.

We get to use art for this too. We get to use it to gaze upon what is good, to relive our finest moments, to hold on to grace and gratitude. After trying to make sense of loss, I’m now trying to make sense of gain, to conceptualize abundance in my life, to get comfortable with wonderful.
After art saves our lives, it sweetens our lives. Or it allows us to stop and reflect upon why our lives are so sweet. And I love this. I started writing my current work for just this reason; to galvanize a philosophy that good things happen in this life, and they even happen to me. I write to remember that this is the kind of world I live in.

So I would riff a little on Gaiman’s quote and say, Life is sometimes wonderful. Things go well, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go well. And when things are delightful, this is what you should do. Make good art.
We can do more than write ourselves out of bad, though many of us start there. We can write ourselves straight into good.  
Jacki Christopher is a copywriter with Coquí Content Marketing. She is passionate about Hugh Grant movies, sport bikes, British slang, chopped salads, the empowerment of women, economic development and scrap paper. When she’s not writing, and even sometimes when she is, she is tasting and enjoying a new wine or trying out a recipe.
Thanks Jacki - I think that's a question we can ask ourselves each and every day - It's one thing to get ourselves out of the bad...but how can we write, create and propel ourselves straight into good?

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