Saturday, June 25, 2011

little renaissance

I have my eyes on a particular piece of art for my waiting room. Local Arizona artist, all the right colors oozing into one another, layers of mindful matter depicted on canvas. The piece moves me like art is supposed to. Unfortunately, financial responsibilities compel me to wait for more stable times. Massive piece, really. Able to loom large over my little white bookshelf, both in size and creative depth. Somehow, the artist managed to nestle the calm look in a beautiful face while a storm of thoughts swirl around.  
The piece has spawned my own creativity in thinking of ways to acquire it.
No, I haven’t thought of robbing a bank or anything remotely like that. Rather, I’ve imagined calling up the artist and offering a trade.  Hmmm. Homeopathic Mental health services for a piece of creative genius art. Hmmm. Perhaps, a little problematic. Might be insulting to suggest a trade given the services I provide. Sticky. Essentially, I’d be suggesting some sort of mental health diagnosis to someone I’ve never even met. Not necessarily the way to win friends and influence people, as far as I can tell.
But, statistically, chancing such an offer—the odds wouldn’t be all that bad. Artist. Creative type. Clearly and most extraordinarily gifted. Kay Redfield J has published volumes of research demonstrating the more frequent occurrence of mood disorders in the creative population. I could play the odds.  
And I can attest to the connection, anecdotally, with my brother.
Art moved and breathed in him. Spilled out on the page in plays on words, or high, emotive notes on the trumpet, or sexy chess moves spun like silk from turning over Bobby Fischer’s classic moves in a book.  Creativity often turns out to be part of the Bipolar package. At times, I’ve even wondered if my brother’s Bipolar Disorder was the very thing that made him so extraordinarily creative. It was as if the gifts were on Speed. Mr. Renaissance Man. He wasn’t merely a trumpet player. He had to be the high school trumpet player invited to make a guest appearance with the Navy Band. He wasn’t merely an artist, he had to be one to capture that look in the eyes that narrows the gap between art and real world emotions on paper.
All things artistic stung for a while after his death. For a time, it seemed as if the grave froze up his artistic gifts alongside his body. My own creativity somehow wound up buried in the adjacent plot. Too painful to dig up out of the earth.
Recently, as the salve of time soothes my soul, I’m moving back toward all things artistic. My own little Renaissance. I’m angling toward the creative arts in whatever ways I feel like: music, writing, dance, painting furniture, or hanging wall art in a medical office. Sometimes even the practice of medicine itself demands a little creativity when interviewing a patient struggling to open up. In some small way, the world feels righted in these small expressions of who I am as creative being. I guess I shouldn’t register surprise at the healing found in precisely the same spot as much of the pain and the grief. It is rather homeopathic, wouldn’t you say?   

P.S. Check out this local Arizona resource that utilizes artistic expression therapeutically for mental illness:


  1. This is nice. I am currently trying to figure out where a creative (though not creatively gifted, per se) person such as myself fits into the medical world. So far the answer seems to be: Nowhere. But i keep searching. Alzheimer's care probably came the closest.

  2. Thanks. I suspect you'd fit well straddling the line between the naturopathic/conventional medical communities, since you have a foundational understanding of both. (perhaps I should use the word integrative?) What I love about naturopathic medicine is that there is a level where art enters in. While there is certainly a science or underlying philosophy surrounding the rx of certain homeopathic remedies, a particular dx does not equal one particular remedy. Rather, I'm looking for the "homeopathic flavor" of the depression and there is an art to figuring that piece out. I love the process of trying to figure this out. I have this suspicion that you'd like it too. ;)