Somewhere in Time


While exploring the group studio that I recently joined in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a surprise caught my eye. A gap in the floor board was smoothed over by a transparent filler encasing a watch.  The timepiece may be understood as memory frozen though present, and how distinguishing the past from the now can be a physical challenge.

This insight resonates with the material on trauma that I began in December, like Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide …. (Cori and Scaer).  The physical sensation of being frozen — or immobilized — is characteristic of traumatic response. Distancing past trauma from present patterns of interacting is a way to transform such reactions. Ultimately, the goal is to release a web of associations bound up in those reactions (see “Along came a spider…”), which takes residence in the body.

The transformation is no easy task, as straightforward as it may sound! (See recent posts for my experiences: “The Poseidon Adventure”, “falling apart”, and “Along came a spider…”.) But the creative arts are a way to keep balance amidst the bumps and, also, a means to map the road of recovery during the healing journey. An excerpt from a recent journal entry conveys how book art serves my journey (the ellipses as part of the original, rather than omitted, text):

The book art is a way to process the experience, as I take steps to change. In one sense, it is a document, but really it is more a map … maybe even an atlas, with multiple maps. I am exploring routes of healing, making “in-roads” into “unknown” territory … So maybe it is an explorer’s journal … notes on a journey … over the edge of the world. (Jan. 8, 2013)

“…over the edge of the world,” being the world as known for the moment, a knowing knit together by past traumas that I strive to release from my present-day body.  Yet another way to frame the process: engaging traumatic memory is like waking a tiger (Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger), and releasing the memory may be akin to taming it.

A word on mapping: I first encountered it as a technique for putting ideas into relationship as a composition student (see “Mind Map”), and put the approach to use as an educator. Mapping is engaged in another way at Crow’s Nest Center for Shamanic Studies, which I understand as exploring mythologies and archetypes to orient the healing process (see “Jungian Archetypes”).

Upon reflection, what modern folks call “mapping” I recognize in ancient cave paintings images placed in relationship as a way to make sense of human story.  My current project of book art is unfolding as such a story around the theme of healing trauma.  The maps and “timepieces” cross-talk, conveying individual and collective expressions.  Samples of work-in-progress will keep coming, Readers, so be sure to stick around!

For those in Greater Lansing — plus those who travel — please join my invited presentation for the Lansing Poetry Club, Sunday, January 20, 2:00pm, at the MICA (Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art) Gallery, 1210 Turner Street, Lansing, 48906. I am sharing new work and making a brief “visit” with my collection Circle…Home (2011).

~Aside: You may have caught the film reference Somewhere in Time (1975) in the blog title. The story follows a man whom through a series of  linked events/ moments/ associations — including a pocket watch gifted by a stranger — succeeds to travel to the distant past to meet the woman he loves.

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2 Responses to Somewhere in Time

  1. Ally says:

    … just like the Red Book…
    your Red Book Mel!
    thanks for sharing your thoughts,
    softness, Ally

  2. Ally, ah, yes, it seems it very well could be. Thank you back for your support through this process! Dance on :-).

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