Art therapy

1 Feb

I feel somewhat guilty declaring “check!” for volunteering – or “saving the world” as my best friend refers to it in an effort to make me feel better about myself – but technically it’s on my winter list and therefore should receive the official “check!” it is due.

To date I have volunteered at soup kitchens, food pantries and elder care facilities.  Two weeks ago I also spent the morning socializing with the residents of Rivington House, a long-term care facility for people living with HIV and AIDS.  I just signed up to take an after-school group of children bowling later this month as well.  In the interest of complete transparency though, my intentions are not entirely selfless when I volunteer…although I hope someday in the near future they will be.

Yes, of course, I want to give back to my community and there is the undeniable intrinsic reward that comes with doing so.  At the same time however I’m still at a place in life where having every Saturday morning to myself can overwhelm me.  So instead I spend a few hours with people whose lives would otherwise not interact with mine.  At a project late last year I chatted with a man who used to design and construct exhibits for the Smithsonian…I mean, that’s just plain cool.  And let’s face it; I also relish having a conversation with someone who has no idea what a whirlwind my life has been since last May.  To that person, I’m just any other 29-year-old volunteering a few hours of her Saturday morning.  So to a large extend, I suppose my motives are self-centered.  But at least I recognize and admit it.  And for the record, I am trying to rectify it.

Within the stockpile of selfish benefits that I appear to reap from volunteering, I also found an activity this past weekend in which I could lose myself – my thoughts, my emotions, my regrets – entirely.  (Where was this project last summer?!) I met up with a group of about a dozen volunteers at Metropolitan Hospital in Spanish Harlem; the project was painting murals in the waiting room of the children’s ward.  Yes I met new faces, and we laughed about our lack of any real artistic ability, but for the most part my mind went completely blank for the first time in eight months.  (Okay, the first time in 8 months without the aid of sleeping pills and a vodka chaser…)  I don’t know if it was my initial fear of screwing up the perfectly sketched mural or just the simple pleasure of enjoying the activity at hand, but I found myself focused on absolutely nothing but painting.  It could not have come at a better time as my ex-fiancé has recently taken it upon himself to reappear in my life.  It has only been through email and I knew it was coming eventually however the idea of his presence in any form is almost enough to, at moments, make me feel as though I’m drowning in the emotion of last summer again.  Not the emotion of him, the person, but the emotion of what I’ve been through, something that every now and then still feels so implausible and surreal.  I’m digressing though; more on this later.

Back to painting.  Check out the pictures below from the project I worked on last weekend.  Go ahead, tell me you would be able to think about anything other than completing this unbelievable mural.  Because the newly discovered artist in me doesn’t believe you…

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2 Responses to “Art therapy”

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  1. Happy Unmarried and Single Americans Week! « Unwedded Bliss - September 29, 2011

    […] marathon; splurging on myself; standing up for myself; meeting new people; meeting serial killers; volunteering; boozing up and visiting Babeland; vacationing with friends (during a hurricane); finding new […]

  2. No good deed goes unpunished « Unwedded Bliss - November 24, 2011

    […] back to my community however, as I’ve blogged about before, up until earlier this year, my motives were very mixed.  Back then I was regularly overwhelmed by Saturday mornings, the once […]

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