Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Voices in my head

I have begun to realise how much I listen to the voice in my head which tells me that I am wrong. Often, like the best of tv impressionists, this voice is a perfect copy of someone else and I am beginning to discover how often I really believe that what I am hearing is what that person is thinking. Sometimes it's the voice of a complete stranger: maybe someone reading a job application, the assistant in a shop or even a figure from history. There is another voice. This one tends to speak quickly, quietly and then retreat like a shy bird. This voice is the one that says, "I'm so tired, I need to sit down," or "No, I don't want to do what you're asking of me," or "I love that piece of art." The first voice shouts it down with accusations of laziness, selfishness or poor taste. I am beginning to learn to silence the first, at least momentarily, to take some control over and responsibility for my thoughts, to add some reason to the mix. I am beginning to learn to listen to the second, to take it seriously, just as I would one of my children. I am beginning to do what it says, when I can, and at least to hear it when I can't. Yesterday evening, in art class, we looked at abstraction. We listened to excerpts of music and sketched the inspired images in our heads, working the one we felt most drawn to into a painting. There was that voice telling me that I was doing it wrong, that my pictures were rubbish, that I was no good. And there was the second speaking of colours and shapes unique to me, rustling grasses, swooping rose stems and ambiguous lizard-shaped oases. I listened; I painted; and every time I do that, the first voice loses some of its power and the second gains a little more confidence.

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