Snapshots of my soul...
Life keeps changing but our inner essence remains the same. Thriving during change is, I believe, linked to our powers of intuition. We all have a path and must learn to listen to our inner promptings, the promptings of the spirit. Follow love, not fear. All of us must learn to distinguish the voice of fear (which leads to a deadness of spirit) from the voice of love (which leads to a feeling of reunion and joyous creativity). When I paint, I wait for this voice. The mind, body, and spirit must be coordinated. I think it is best described as “flow” although you could also call it meditation. At their best, my paintings are snapshots of my soul.
In both my painting and my writing, I meditate upon the metaphor of the body to the spirit, of the physical world to the spiritual world. I see my personal experiences as archetypal and part of a vast pattern shared by all human beings.
Independent investigation of truth is an essential principle and protects us from blind imitation. I believe that blindly imitating others, without pausing to reflect and meditate, is a leading cause of prejudice and fanaticism—or, at the very least, it is the cause of dullness. Intuition, or listening to the inner voice, certainly helps us discern the truth. We are all born with hidden potential and it is up to us to discover and nurture it. As Nelson Mandela said in his 1994 inaugural speech, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.”
Okay, back to me (whoever this “me” is). “Me” is always changing, but always the same. There is an ebb and flow in growth. Sometimes I make steady progress and sometimes I flounder in the dark, searching for the light switch.
As I get older and develop a little more wisdom of hindsight (ha!), I realize that each decade presents a new set of challenges, some of which are nearly overwhelming. Upheaval seems to be a constant in life. But now I am beginning to accept this fact and, hopefully, keep my sense of humor about it. One of the lies told by our culture is this myth of a carefree existence if you are only rich enough, thin enough, healthy enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, etc. We must discern the truth of the matter. The truth is, just like schoolchildren, it is good for us to have tests. “What is to give light must first endure burning.” -Victor Frankl.
My decade of being a child was when I learned that my inner voice existed. One day, I actually heard it. It told me, “You are an artist.” I remember jumping up waving my drawing at my mother and saying, “I’m an artist!” That was when I was five. At age seven, it told me that I was a poet. My decade of being a teenager was a bit more difficult and my inner voice was usually fuzzed up with static. No clear realizations came to me during that decade because I was so utterly entranced with my discovery of “other people” and their weird lives. It was enchanting (mesmerizing!) to be wrapped up in other people’s lives. Hormones played a role, no doubt. But by seventeen, I knew for sure that I was alone in the universe and responsible for only me, not all my friends or my “crazy” family. This was liberating. Once again, I began to pay attention to the little voice within me and find my own path.
By age twenty, I was married. My decade of being in my twenties was incredibly busy. Marriage, two kids, a master’s degree, three houses, and half a dozen low-paying jobs to help make ends meet. For my first job after college, I worked as a bank teller and got fired for standing up to my manager’s blatant sexism. We moved to a small town where the living was supposed to be easier. There, I made guitars and worked at the desk in the hospital's emergency room. Throughout the decade, I changed diapers and, always, I painted. I look back on those paintings now and wonder how I did it. They are like a diary, full of secrets. As Pablo Picasso said, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
During my thirties and into my forties, I felt powerful for the first time. I was a mother, and my children were thriving. Nothing could be better than this, I thought. I was their fierce protector, a mother tiger. But I could not protect them from everything. We nearly lost our daughter, at age twelve, to a sudden illness. A few years later, our adventurous son flew from a rope and fractured his skull. Both children recovered fully, thankfully. Terrifying events like this occur in so many families, sometimes much worse, and I feel a great tenderness towards other people’s suffering as a result. In the oft-quoted words of one of my town's local sages, “Life is fraught with many perils.”
And it is true...life is full of unknowns, some of which are difficult. The joy is in the path along the way...and in always trying to stay in the present moment. Follow love, not fear. Love is, quite simply, the vital energy that connects all things. The desire of my heart is to share and connect—to foster feelings of reunion and joy with my art and writing. God willing, I will attain.
If you have read this far "About Wanda" and want to read more about my current journey, go to my Home page for my recent blogs and introspective musings. Thanks!
By the way, in case you’re curious about my credentials, here is what she posted for my bio on YA Books Central :
Wanda has always loved art, poetry, and books that invite you to reflect upon the mysteries of life. Picture books are her favorites and she also enjoys YA novels. After filling her head with mysticism and romantic notions about art, at age 18 she built a cardboard house in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains and lived there all summer while working as a portrait artist. Afterwards, she got a B.F.A. in painting and an M.A. in Historic Preservation, got married, had two wonderful kids, restored multiple houses, did oral history projects, became a registered yoga teacher (RYT200), and kept a vivid diary via her paintings, poems, and yoga blog. Her years of historic research and lifelong love of poetry led to her passion for writing YA fiction. Details about Wanda’s cardboard house, her life in the woods, her writing, and her current batch of paintings can be found on her website…
P.S. About Wanda’s name:
I think that the name originated in Eastern Europe and means “wanderer” but I often wonder if the name also means “wonder”— I’m constantly wondering about one thing or another. By the way, I sign all my paintings W. Collins Johnson…for some ancient reason I cannot now recall. An art professor probably talked me into dropping the Wanda. I wonder why?
And that’s about all there is to say on that subject…
…unless, of course, you’re interested in hearing more. You might be weird, like me. You might want to think about your own name, research its meaning and origin, etc. If, like me, you are fascinated by names, then you will want to check out a book called The Secret Universe of Names: the Dynamic Interplay of Names and Destiny, by Roy Feinson, copyright 2004. In it, you can find out about the sound of your name and how its sound evokes basic gut reactions. As a “WN” name, Wanda evokes feelings associated with mysterious elements (like the wind…) mixed with the slightly off-kilter— words such as wonky or wink.
I’d love to hear from you!
All Content © 2009 Wanda Collins Johnson