“The sole work of La Loba is the collecting of bones. She is known to collect and preserve especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world. Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her speciality is said to be wolves.
She creeps and crawls and sifts through the monatanas, mountains, and arroyos, dry river beds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white sculpture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire ad thinks about what song she will sing.” ~ Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Today I turned my day around and played it backwards. Instead of coming online and working, or being distracted, or getting caught up in feeling angry at the news… instead of finding myself at the end of the day with no time, or solitude, or energy to Be Myself, to connect with Wild Woman or Sing Over The Bones… instead I thought about my Bones first. I thought about the labels I want to give myself yet fail to honour… dancer, artist, writer… creatrix.
I thought about finding those bones and retrieving them from the desert, or the wild heather moor, or the depths of the sea. I thought about how best to return to who I am after the storm I have endured and I returned to my most favourite of books – Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes – and I started at the beginning. This paragraph jumped out at me:
“It is our brush with Wild Woman that drives us not to limit our conversations to humans, not to limit our most splendid movements to dance floors, nor our ears only to music made by human-made instruments, nor our eyes to “taught” beauty, nor our minds to those things we all agree upon already.”
I thought about my feet, about how they connect with the earth and I thought about my pretty rounded toes with the sturdy width behind them that supports me even on my tippy toes. I thought about the curve of my arches and the graceful line of my feet en pointe. I got lost for a moment enjoying liking a part of my body before a hint of guilt crept in.
I looked down at my feet and beheld the expensive but chipped nail polish and the heels cracked with neglect. I thought about how far those feet have come and how far they have yet to go. I thought about how long it is since they simply danced.
I gave myself an hour, closed the curtains and played a CD that has lain silent for years. Almost immediately I loosened up and released my grace. I did not feel anything other than the joy of my own movement at first but soon I had to flick away the savage voice who tells me I am fat and ugly, who sidelines me, who says I chose to be the way I am. I shimmied past the long nose under judgemental eyes and let them fall into the shadows.
I became snakelike, or swanlike, or simply a shimmering sequin and I moved from free-dancing into a workout that is a cross between yoga and bellydancing. I raised energy and I could feel a cone of power vibrating even in muscles that rebelled and wailed.
I thought about my artist, my poor neglected pencils and I thought about the conversation at a recent dinner party where I had the audacity to define myself as “more of a gypsy artist.” I recalled the response from a woman who has never seen anything that I have made, or drawn, or written. I heard her derision and her comments about art school and how competitive it is and her words suggesting I could not be an artist because I did not go.
I am not competitive. I find the competitive energy anathema to creative energy. It is narrow, constrictive and focused not only on a result – but on a result based on someone else’s energy. I do not need the torture of such an environment to claim the word artist.
I remembered one of my loudest creative critics, a man who probably ensured I was saved from an art school environment. He was a lecturer on an art course I attended. He was trusted and paid to nurture young people in discovering their artist selves.
One day he took a piece that I had drawn in experimental mode, as requested, and verbally ripped it to shreds in front of the whole class. He belittled it, rubbished it, patronised it and had nothing constructive to say about it. I was mortified and any confidence that I had to experiment on paper dissipated.
Over time I have hoped that they chased him with torches flaring into the hills far away from the realms of young or developing artists. I wish that I had chased him myself.
He was still there today as I picked up pencils and began to make shapes on paper. He never let up and he is still there as I look over the first pencil sketch I have made in years.
I claim the right to make pages of bad art, instead of falling for the myth that every page should be a masterpiece.
I sit at the page scrawling ideas and images and conversations, moulding them, experimenting, freeing the voices. I write and write and write.
La Loba sits on the edge of the moor peering into my circle, grinning a toothy and wicked grin.