Keep Art Alive :: Art by Clara Lieu

Things are shifting inside of me, feelings moving to one side, or another, and some things I think I’m just letting go of. I swore that this would be a year of change for me. I said it like a mantra, like a wish, like a promise to myself. It was different than a resolution, bigger, more true, because I kept it to myself, tucking it away. I may have said it now andagain, but the words were kept vague, grey-tinted, blurry. I did not even know myself what all the changes would be. I didn’t want to know. I did not want to make lists that might sit there as a reminder, as expectation, as disappointment. No, I wanted it to be more natural than that. I wanted to see what change could be, what change might come.

Some of the shifts they were nearly invisible. Others have been impossible to miss. The change is still happening, too. I am seeing things with a new perspective. I am challenging myself. I am surprising myself. Words flow from my fingers easily, sometimes they feel magical, otherworldly, as if something inside of me, something unknown, takes over and is telling stories through me. Words come from my mouth, too. Strong words, brave words, and my voice itself sounds confident, curious, full of conviction and strength. I used to be so tied up in knots on the inside, especially when being vulnerable, especially in new situations, but something has shifted, something has changed within me.

School has been vital to this change, but it hasn’t been everything. No, these changes started happening before I sent off the university application, before I wrote that entrance essay, before I opened the acceptance letter. It started before I made changes to my health, before I started fitness plans and going down a route of taking care of my body more. It began with the feeling of my heart opening. It began when I started to acknowledge the possibilities that existed before me. It began when I started seeing the world around me more fully. And, it began when I started to embrace music in a different way.

I spent the Spring and Summer going to concerts, so many that I started to lose track. Most of the time I went alone, not letting that scare me, not letting it stop me from seeing artists I needed to see. It was freeing to do that. It gave me a confidence I hadn’t felt in years. It made me feel brave and bold. The music, so much of it, all of it really, opened me up in ways I’ve never experience before. I felt as if it gifted me a new way of feeling, a new way of seeing, a new way of believing — in myself, and in the world around me.

The music got inside of me, deeper than music ever has before, and it settled in-between my ribs, it encircled my heart, it flowed through my arteries, beating along with my pulse, spinning around in the oxygen I breathed. I have taken the music along with me, to classes, to libraries, to workshops, to the gym, and to the trails I’ve started hiking on. It plays in my ears while I turn pages in books I’m reading, and while I’m writing another ten pages of my novel, or crafting poetry and personal essays. It soothes me and comforts me, is there when I need to cry, laugh, scream, or sing. It has been there when I’ve had to walk away from people and places that have been hurtful to me. And, it is here with me now as I write for twenty minutes, letting words bleed out of me without restriction, without the editor’s critical eye, without backspacing or deleting or over-thinking.

I have started new habits, embracing voices I need to hear, losing myself in books that I’ve never experienced before, genres that are surprising and new. I am checking off titles I always meant to read, dipping in to the classics, but also dancing with newer writers’ first books. I am learning from them, finding insight in choices made, details and vivid colors and lines. I feel inspired by every artist I encounter, be it author, filmmaker, painter or musician. I take pictures of the sky, from the window on an airplane, from the roof of a parking structure I prefer at school, from the vantage point of my driveway, and sometimes through my windshield while stopped in Los Angeles traffic, trying to capture the everyday beauty above.

Everything fuels my art, my creative mind is soaking everything up, devouring, filling up every part of me. I’ve never felt so open before in my life. And the things I’m releasing, forgiving, letting go, their absence makes me feel stronger. The vacancies are filling up though with so much new information and learning, yet I know there is room for so much more. I welcome the so much more, long for it, crave it, am opening the door of myself for it all.

Grazed Knees :: Snow Patrol

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