What are the ghosts that follow you into your art?
I’m sitting here listening to Rancid’s “Let the Dominoes Fall” CD. Every time I hear Tim Armstrong sing, “…there’s ghosts that follow me around everywhere I am…” (lyrics from the song, “Civilian Ways”), I get a lump in my throat. The referenced ghosts follow someone who has returned from war and it always gives me pause. It makes me think about how to be supportive to those people who come back from military service in Iraq and Afghanistan with a sense of no longer fitting into life in Roseville, Minnesota, or wherever they’re from. Today, however, I broke through to a different thought about what ghosts show up in my writing.
There are the usual things: people who have died, especially my father; sisters who no longer communicate because we disagree on our respective roles with each other and the world; partners who didn’t work out; a religion left behind. Perhaps, more importantly, are the ghosts that I work to keep out of my writing, the events that get shoved into the darkest recesses so they can’t damage anyone. Their shadows probably still show up in the work – I simply can’t see them. Others might.
Today, instead of digging further into this, I invite you to explore your ghosts and see what they push you to create. And ponder which ghosts you choose to leave out. Take a leap.
DO A KIND THING
In keeping with the idea of ghosts that follow us into our art, take a look at the site for the Combat Paper Project. Veterans who get involved in the project attend workshops where they learn how to turn their old uniforms into paper and, from there, create art projects that allow them to make sense of and share their experiences. Check it out at http://www.combatpaper.org/about.html. They accept donations to help keep things going.