Tag Archives: expression

The Gap

“The most frustrating, agonizing part of creative work, and the one we grapple with every day in practice, is our encounter with the gap between what we feel and what we can express… Often we look at ourselves and feel that everything is lacking! It is in this gap, this zone of the unknown, where we feel most deeply – but are most inarticulate.”

– Nachmanovitch, 1990

At least with art, photography, music, poetry, dance and the innumerable forms of aesthetic expression… With their beauty of subtlety and space for interpretation, we come that little bit closer to bridging this Gap within.

Ten Loves

“I may be young, but I can see it so clearly, that this artistic life is full of nothing but doubt and self-loathing, and will never give you anything real, anything you can hold in your hand and keep forever. It’s a slippery fish that might swim off at any moment, but it also has such attraction you can’t help running after it, like someone possessed.”

– Who Murdered the Month of May, from Ten Loves, Zhang Yueran

Photographs fade, scores are lost, art works collect dust, literature go out of print, dances are forgotten..
Basically every method of preservation we employ, despite their quality and quantity, is ultimately still impermanent.
They may last for decades and centuries, but what about the millennium after this, and the millenniums after, and the light years after that?
Everything that comes from non-being will eventually go back to that. The cycle of life.

Yet, we continue to create and preserve, taking our chance with making a mark in various fields of expression, almost as if the meaning of our existence can be validated by the futility of theirs.

Expression and Interaction

MQ is one of the new clients I saw for the first time this recent Tuesday. She has Tuberous Sclerosis – a condition I honestly have never heard of until last week. As there is no cure for this condition, the main therapeutic goals for her are simply expression and interaction.

At the start of the session and up till slightly after the mid-way point, MQ was showing apprehension about my presence, being resistant to changes and unfamiliar people. She refused to sit in the chair next to the piano when I was there, and at one point she even took my arm and gestured for me to stand further away so that she could have more physical space. While we complied with all these, E was constantly trying to re-introduce the physical proximity between us, trying to make MQ comfortable with me being near her.

At the start, while E and MQ improvised on the woodblocks, I was tapping on the xylophone, 2 meters away. Then E tried to introduce the wind chimes.

Picture Source

MQ resisted greatly to this, presumably because it sounded too clashing for her. But when E started to play a gentle piano accompaniment, and I softly tinkled the high notes, MQ stopped resisting and seemed to pause to listen.

Halfway into this exchange, E whispered to me to get the hand chimes, while she continued the piano accompaniment so as not to break MQ’s focus.

Picture Source

This was the instrument which MQ seemed to really identify with. I held 2 in my hands at first and played to her. She seemed to enjoy the sound and started swaying from side to side in wider motions. When E suggested to her that she take one and play it herself, MQ allowed me to hand her one, and allowed me to stand closer to her in the process. That was when things really started to take off. It was as if the instrument allowed MQ to unleash all the musical expression within her. With E still playing the comforting accompaniment on the piano, MQ was swaying more vigorously than ever, smiling, laughing, vocalizing. And… She had finally allowed me to stand face to face in front of her, without pushing me away!

We remained like this for the rest of the session – the 2 of us with a hand chime each, swaying together, smiling.. and E supporting with the piano.

E later commented that it is unusual for MQ to allow a totally new and unfamiliar person to stand that close to her within the time span of 1 session. No doubt the music helped to make her feel less threatened when confronted with change and unfamiliarity.

Expression and interaction – achieved – at least for this session.

Writing About Writing

“…writing a story isn’t a means of self-therapy, it’s nothing more than a meager attempt at self-therapy.”

– Murakami, Hear The Wind Sing

Although Mr Murakami seemed to have taken a rather pessimistic view towards writing as a form of self-therapy in his first novel, I’d like to think that it works rather well for me.

Thoughts that feel jumbled in my head, thoughts that I fret about, thoughts that lurk around in hidden corners of my brain – somehow they assume a certain natural order and form when I pick up a pen and attempt to coax them out. Through writing, I can rationalize my thoughts, analyze why I think or feel in certain ways, and strategize what I can do about them. The more I write, especially with pen and paper, the more I feel that the processes happen naturally.

Sometimes I read what I wrote in my many previous notebooks, and surprise myself by finding the words increasingly unfamiliar, as if they were penned by someone else. And perhaps they were – A hidden being in the depths of my consciousness.

We all need an outlet for expression, and writing works for me, more so than verbal expression. I’ve always been selective about who and what I confide in and about. Furthermore, with voice, I may get distracted by tone, thrown off by subtle vibrations and feel overly conscious about vocal quality. Not forgetting body language, eye contact, and a host of other things to consider when it comes to expressing yourself verbally. But writing, a largely silent and private activity, feels more patient. It provides space, and the possibility of  expanding it. I can take as much time as I need between each word, to coax my hidden thoughts, their motives and intentions to life. And because I don’t always need to let the whole world know what I’m thinking, I relish getting to know that hidden part of my being, sometimes all too easily buried under the 21st Century’s emphasis on impressive appearances, confident delivery and effective presentation.