Reconnecting with joy in art and writing

I’ve mentioned before that I really didn’t lose much as a result of my drinking. And it’s true, I didn’t lose any of the things that one might normally measure as losses. I kept my job, my wife, my house, my son, my car, and my health — if only just barely.

This past Sunday, I was feeling a bit restless for no particular reason. We’d been to the pool on Saturday, but I felt a need to get out of the house. I went out around 11:30 with the intention of picking up a pair of shorts to replace some that I’d blown out on vacation.

Over the past week, my Twitter/Instagram/Facebook friend, Regina Walker had posted a few photos of her son at some art museums —this one of her son contemplating a Jackson Pollock had stirred up a desire to go to an art museum in me. Then over the weekend, she posted this one at MOMA and it kind of sealed the deal. As I left the house, I asked my son if he’d like to go to the Baltimore Museum of Art when I returned.

Amazingly, he said, “Yes” without hesitation. I texted my brother and made plans to meet him at the museum around 2:30.

We had an fantastic time walking around the museum. It really is quite a collection with some true masterpieces from many different time periods. There works by Rembrandt, Monet, Gauguin, Klee, Calder, Warhol — the list goes on. All right there in little old Baltimore.

In high school, my senior superlative was “most artistic” but most of my friends form college and later in life would not believe that. I dropped art like a bad habit once I got to college. I also dropped the guitar. Sure, I played the guitar occasionally, but not like I did when I was in high school. And drawing — well, I didn’t even keep a sketch book in college.

And I recognized that I lost those things, even in college. But I didn’t recognize why. Now, with nine months of sobriety, I recognize that it was largely because beer became my priority. I didn’t have time for such trivial things as drawing. That’s sad. That’s a loss.

Over the years, I’ve tried to pick up the habit of sketching again several times to little avail. I know it’s in there, buried deeply, but it’s hard to bring it out. I get frustrated easily and I give up quickly.

IMG_2847I’ve also spent some time behind the lens of the camera. Tucked away in a closet, I have a volume of slides, prints, and negatives from my days of film. They collect dust, or would if the weren’t sealed up in a box.

I’m trying to regain what I lost, my artistic side, by writing and spending time with the camera. Slowly, it will come back. Slowly, I’ll learn that I can still make great things. Maybe, I’ll eventually pick up a sketchbook and some graphite and ink.

Going to the BMA on Sunday was a good step in the right direction. It was a reminder that I do love art and I am a creative person, even if I don’t let it show like I once did. It was also a great way to spend some real quality time with my son, who seems to grow up faster and faster with every passing second. And it was fun.

I distinctly remember recognizing an emotion that is becoming more familiar to me while I watched my son build with blocks at the BMA. That feeling is joy and it is such a wonderful feeling. More than simple happiness, joy is an exuberant feeling of pleasure.

I’ve felt joy more and more in my life over the last nine months. It’s one of the many reasons to keep working at this sobriety thing.

9 responses to “Reconnecting with joy in art and writing”

  1. Hi Damien!! Great post. I too feel joy these days. The good news I’m told is that it gets even better!! Great to see you getting in touch with your artistic side. Onwards my friend!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a touching post. Especially the part about the “joy” being a good motivator to do the work of sobriety…and by the way I’m jealous of your outing to the BMA…Baltimore is my hometown but I live in Texas now (result of divorce, too long of a story for a comment)…I really miss the rich cultural and historical stuff from my hometown…how wonderful that you can enjoy it with your son. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Small world! I was born in Baltimore and grew up in Carroll County. My family has strong ties to Baltimore on both my Mom and Dad’s side. I grew up making day trips to Baltimore that included the Inner Harbor (before and after the revitalization), Lexington & Cross Street Markets, and Corned Beef Row as highlights. (We like to eat!) After college I lived in Charles Village and then in Fells Point. I consider Baltimore my home city and love pretty much everything about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! So much comes back to us in sobriety, and in new and exciting ways. Yes, it’s all still there and maybe bigger than before. Creativity feels key to a satisfying sobriety. Great to hear you’re starting with photography and writing. You’re very talented.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And you cook, too!
    In my case, I let teaching take over my whole life, too.
    I worked all the time, and let go of hobbies I loved.
    Finding my way back is slow, but you remind me not to give up!!

    Liked by 1 person

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