Poppies and Wheatfields

What is a poppy in a wheat field to you?

I went to a reflection day in my Community yesterday, which was build around the image of bread and its basic ingredients. Some lengthy talk, some silence, and some group reflection. Part of the group work was to summarise our thoughts visually, on a piece of fabric. Everyone drew some little image on it, and one girl drew a poppy in-between some ears of corn. And this is the one image that stayed with me. What some would call the one non-essential ingredient… It adds beauty and colour, it draws the eye to itself in the midst of a wheat field.

What’s the use of it?

No more than to be a poppy maybe. To be there.

“What’s the use” is the response I get from family members in regards to my love for art, for literature.

What’s the use.

Non-essential ingredients.

And yet I know that I cannot be without it. To deny my need for art, colour, creation, poetry, is self-destructive. It is me denying an essential part of myself.

And yet they ask me “what’s the use”. Nobody needs it. We don’t understand it. So it can’t have a point of existing.

They approach art the same way they approach religion. Everything they can’t understand can’t be. There is an answer for every question, and if you haven’t found an answer to your question yet, they will. Because there has to be one. And if they need to bend the truth a bit for that purpose, no-one will know.

What’s the use of the things we don’t understand?

What’s the use of art that is not photographic? (Abstract art – “A five-year old could have done that!”)

Art is one way of trying to understand all that we don’t understand; art is a way to represent all that we do not understand. Art poses questions and helps those who see it to find their own questions. Art is rarely an explanation; art is much more a response, and a search for a response. This horizon is wider than your eyes are able to take in if you don’t move your head…

We don’t find answers but our questions are getting better.

I need my family. I need affirmation. I need them to heal the pain they have caused – in this, and in other things. Or rather, I want them to heal that pain. Just once, for one of them to look at a work of art with me with openness and not derision, to read a poem and share the pleasure, to see more than can be cut up into easily digestible pieces by small-mindedness and fear. Fear of too much space. Fear of no safe path to walk down. Fear of not being in control by explaining away every bit of mystery.

I’m so frustrated and angry with them, and they still have the power to set their limits around me, with the echos in my mind if nowhere else. I want to throw insults at them, react, and I feel guilty the moment I think the words. Unfortunately, my mind works tirelessly to understand why they are the way they are. And once you understand a bit, you might feel some compassion. And then it’s not so easy to be furious anymore.

I want to be free of this struggle. I want to let this go, let them go. And live my life. And I don’t know how.

How to be the poppy. To accept that I stick out in a wheat field, and that art still has nothing to do with being self-involved. Not to worry about it. How to enjoy being a poppy…

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