Brush Strokes

There is release in creating something.

She watches the line her pen leaves, following the swooping black ink as it streaks across the page. Her hand stays steady, somehow, and the nib reaches the edge of the pattern without jolting. She lets out the breath she’s been holding, taken aback by how still she was keeping herself. Taking her hand away from the page, she assesses her creation. She decides, and puts pen to paper once more, adding to the design, pulling images and ideas from her mind and letting them come flowing out of the end of her pen. She sighs quietly, allowing herself to be simply content in this moment.

At the end of the table, her mum sits up straight, unbending her neck after the focus of close work and assesses the paper in front of her with the same critical eye, pausing in her penmanship for a moment, preventing herself from doing too much.

“I love this, sitting here like this in this light just drawing and creating. If I could do this all my life I think I would be happy, I don’t want to teach sulky teenagers anymore.” Her mum speaks out loud, voicing her thoughts to the room.

She smiles and nods in agreement as she looks up and out of the window in front of her.

“Yes, me too. If I could sit like this and draw, and then bake some cakes. And ride a horse. If I could do that all day then yes, I would be very happy indeed I think.” She watches a bird in a tree outside and smiles broadly, nodding at her own sentence, certain of the truth she has uttered. Both of them sit quietly for a moment before turning their eyes back to their respective pages, pens poised for the next piece of imagination to be brought to life.

As she draws, she feels some of her sadness trickling out and for a moment she panics. Is she crying? Is she about to have an emotional meltdown? She calms herself and realises, no, that isn’t it at all. It is the drawing. The act of it. Her inky swirls and lines and shapes are becoming the method of her healing, the way in which she makes sense of her own mind. It is a simple thing, she considers, to draw. Put the nib of a pen on the paper and move your hand, that’s all there is to it. There are no rules, no limitations, nothing to say what is wrong or right. Everything that grows from the end of your pen is yours alone, and she feels her heart rejoicing in that knowledge.

There are theories that colouring in is a good form of therapy for people with mental health instabilities. She remembers her mum talking about it earlier in the day and she sees the truth of it from her own understanding. Perhaps it is different for every individual, she thinks, and some may need more than just that to help them, but for her own part she knows what it is that brings her peace. It is in the way she can sort through her thoughts with every line she draws. Each shape she sets down contains certain issues she is dealing with. In every pattern there is a different emotion, a unique memory or collection of fragmented thoughts. She places them in their separate containers of ink, and makes them beautiful. And then they become things she can handle, and she slowly puts them in order, garnering perspective and understanding along the way.

She knows now why sometimes she wants only to immerse herself in this sort of action. She remembers the days she wishes to pour herself into one thing, be it drawing or baking or writing. In the act of creating, she comes back to herself, climbing to the top of her walls and jumping right into her own heart.

And so she continues to draw, allowing her imagination free rein over her hands as the pen darts and dashes across the paper leaving dark strokes of everything she feels in its wake.

And she is happy then, because the drawing is becoming a giraffe.

She likes giraffes.


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