by Willemien van der Walt
What an empowering experience!
I did not know the woman who arrived in Stanford wearing my body. Somewhere along the way, and a long way it was (I am 50 after all), she had become a stranger. Somewhere, between marriage and miscarriage, changing homes and careers, a divorce and an empty nest, I had lost touch with her.
The weekend commenced. As we danced, hiked, painted and wrote I started stealing surreptitious glances at this faintly familiar stranger who was answering to my name. How could I renew the acquaintance? As it happened, I did not need to “do” much. Within the safe healing space provided by the facilitators, it was she who approached me. A dance sequence triggered memories; floodgates opened; a torrent of long-suppressed emotions was released. Then, during a slow and silent walk through nature, these emotions found words, phrases and rhythms. Images descended into my brain and my notebook quickly and effortlessly filled with scribbled verses and clumsy couplets. Using objects as symbols and images as trigger points, I had re-embodied her, my internal stranger. She woke me, before dawn, urging me to pen down questions, thoughts and new insights. By the end of the weekend I knew her well, and when I left, I left with her, as her.
Through the MovingArt process I came face to face with my weaknesses, but also found ways to access my inner strengths. It allowed for the safe release of my repressed and pent-up emotions. It provided the reassurance that I have every right to express my feelings, fears, hopes and aspirations, in my unique, individual way. Ultimately, I have developed compassion for the person I used to be and who had overtaken, learned loving acceptance of who I am now, and am looking forward with great excitement and anticipation to meeting the person I am in the process of becoming. The greatest benefit for me, however, lies in the fact that it provided an outlet for my burgeoning creativity. Reams of poetry gushed forth, images dropped into my mind, begging to be used.
I've kept up with the outpouring of words through pen and onto paper. I am now again keeping a daily journal, recording my moods, thoughts, insight, fears and worries. In this way I stay in touch with myself. It helps me to see where I came from and where I am in this moment, but mostly where I still want to go, all that I still want to do, be and have in this life. I have found my creative and intuitive voice. I have found the courage to allow it to surface in a safe environment. “Nothing is worth more than this day”, said Goethe, and so I am seizing each day and making the most of it, filling it with every conceivable creative endeavour. Through my newly-rediscovered creativity I connect with what goes beyond words and pictures, that which cannot be shown but can be felt, that can be experienced. I get in touch with a part of myself that I often lose in the flurry of mundane daily activities. I get to know myself as a fragment of the Whole, a particle of the Universe. I access the divine. I am estranged from myself no more, and I now wear my own magnificent body.
*Willemien van der Walt is a researcher