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Word Art: Breaking Awake

I had it in my head that I would do something simple and easy to add to my collection of Word Art.  Two colors bisected by a narrowing crack between them.  Something about the breakings of things.  Should have been able to knock it out in one evening.


My inspiration ground to a halt in mid-sentence.  And there is perhaps some significance in the fact that the point I stopped at How can any of us hope before setting aside the pen and leaving the work undone for days which became weeks and weeks which became months.

My time filled up with other matters.  Matters of survival, to some degree, but also matters that were less challenging than buckling down and making myself finish this thing.  I couldn’t even seem to make myself start on something else until it was completed, perhaps for fear that I’d wind up just as stuck partway through.

One fine Saturday afternoon, I crouched down on my bedroom floor, yanked out my art supplies, pulled out the notebook I’ve been drafting things in and forced myself to at least get a few more words down.  I ended the incomplete sentence, hammered out another and then had to get ready to leave.  But I’d done something.

One week ago, resuming my post at the Glenwood, listening to the Taylor Kennedy Group, I drank a glass of wine and word by word, line by line, filled the page to the end.

I nearly always title things once I’ve finished them, rather than beforehand, since I don’t always know how the words are going to turn out.  The words “Breaking Awake” came to me as I prepared to write the title down and thus it has become.

Breaking Awake

Breaking Awake

Nothing ever remains unbroken.

The earth or the air or time itself will shift and what lies in the wake of that shift has no choice other than to bend or break.

And no matter how pliable you make something, materiality itself is rigid enough to snap under just the right kind of stress.

Even the bonds of water molecules will separate into droplets or steam.

What breaks is never mended to precisely its original state.

It is at best similar, much like what it was, but the world will have shifted around it in such a way that it will not and cannot by quite the same thing.

A crack can only be solidly filled by adding to whatever already was.

This is how we grow, how we expand and it is also how we contract as we refine ourselves, chip away the stone of our lives to unlock the angel inside us.

We must break things in order to live.

We must break from our pasts so that we can embrace the moment as it truly is.

We must break away from paths that will ultimately lead to suffocation.

And yet it is also our nature to mourn when the porcelain of our perfected lives ends up shattered upon the ground.

How can any of us hope to become greater than what we are if we continue to be confined to the boundaries of all that came before, even as such limits have been blurred by time?

All the fractured places in our lives do not require mending before we can progress.

That is a lie that we tell ourselves in order to keep us comfortably within the lines we draw around our lives.

What is true for our bodies is not always true for our souls.

While it is hazardous to walk upon a broken leg, it is not the same risk to love through a broken heart.

A heart is mended by the flow of love into these open spaces.

The mistake (the common, the tragic, the foolish mistake!) is the believe that this healing must only come from outside sources.

The breaks in the heart are filled by what pours out as much as what pours in.

A seed must crack its shell in order to sprout into what it was shaped to become.

So much our hearts, our spirits, our lives.

We do not have to wait for forces of nature to smash things open for us.

(Though they inevitably will if we hold ourselves too rigidly.)

Nor do we need to damage ourselves just to make a clean break of things.

We can tap against the shells we find ourselves in and form those fractures with utmost care.

Everything we think we are can be broken.

It is all in how to choose to fill in or widen those empty lines that shapes us.

And here then is the paradox that takes some lifetimes to ever understand—that when we open ourselves wide enough to take in all the gaps, the unfinished places, the ways we are torn open and left incomplete, when the hollowed spaces in ourselves, in our hearts, in our lives are allowed to remain unfilled, when our flaws, all of our fuck-ups and every imperfection is gently held open, then we find that then, without striving or struggle, we are truly whole.

My only hope is that I will remember these words when I embark on my next piece.  Particularly since it seems to me that the one thing that was holding me back from completing this piece was a nagging urge towards perfectionism.

Prints of this work are available here.

The original is not for sale.

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