We started our poetry unit in English class, and while I couldn’t be more excited (I love poetry), I was extremely hesitant. My English teacher isn’t exactly the Mr. Keating feel that every English nerd desires. Sadly, no “O Captain, My Captain” here.
It’s been a few days in and while I’m not exactly enjoying the unit so far, I have enjoyed what we’ve read and the brief discussions we have. One text, however, stuck out to me and prompted a slight epiphany.
It was an essay by Billy Collins about how a poem travels. He remarked that once he starts a poem, he often has no clue how it will end, but when he reaches the ending, he knows it is the ending, and feels like it has been there all along. This idea really got me thinking about art, and how it truly is a journey.
When I know I have delivered a good dance performance, I can feel it. It feels like you stepped out of your body for those few minutes; like your head took a vacation; like something else was leading you on the floor.
When I look at certain paintings, something inside me screams at me, telling me that I like it. It’s not because my head is analyzing the structure, the color, or the texture. But something deeper that I can’t describe.
Well, while reading this essay, I think I kind of figured it out (at least, for me personally).
Everyday, we spend our lives in our heads: thinking, processing, analyzing. However, there are two parts of who we are. Our head, as mentioned above, and our heart. Our heart does the feeling and the real thinking. You know when Disney princesses say “follow your heart”? Well, that’s crap! It’s hard to tap into that part of who you are (I mean, granted they had fairy godmothers and singing birds), because our society forces us to hide that vulnerable aspects of ourselves away.
Art is the easiest way for us to tap into our heart. It is the only way to explain the sensation I feel when I’m dancing, when I’m writing, or when I look at a painting. Something else takes over and leads me to where I need to go. That something is your heart! When we pursue any given art form, it is a breather for our heads and the opportunity for our heart to take over. That’s why art is so relaxing and therapeutic: your heart takes the reigns and helps to heal your busy head that can never take a break.
When I am stressed, I dance. When I am confused, I write. When I am sad, I listen to music. The list is endless. Art is my escape. Art is the time for my heart to run free.
I cage my heart. Everyone does. No one truly wears their heart on their sleeves because most of the time we aren’t aware that this aspect of ourselves truly exist. Some people go through their whole lives without releasing their hearts.
But, this is why art is such a crucial part of culture and the history of human life. It has always been there because speaking with the heart is the most primal form of communication and existence. It need not be defined by language, which at times can be constricting, but instead takes on a whole new form that all humans can connect to because all humans possess this ability.
It truly is amazing. Art. And humans. And I am so lucky to have devoted my life to it.