“My mind seemed to become feebler as my feelings grew more intense” – Hector Berlioz
Feelings are a strange thing to an artist, oh those of oft-pained hearts. Feelings are your constant companion and muse, your ally and tormentor. Feelings, feelings, and more feelings well up and flood out of you, and with them comes your art—your words, your songs, your creation. Your catalog of experiences, your catalog of hurts.
Sometimes your hurt is an overwhelming assault or a nagging ache. A thorn in your bare foot, a break in your bone. You pick it up, hold it in your hands, study every nuance. Sometime it is a heavy fog that swallows you whole. It is so big that you can’t even comprehend it, you can’t make any sense of it at all. It’s a jumbled expanse of a painted canvas you are standing with your nose up against. You can’t see the impressionistic rendering of water and the setting sun: you see swirls of cold blue and slashes of searing red. You see your despair, you see your anger. You do not see what it means or what it is for, and though you want to you simply can’t. You’re too close. It’s too big. It’s too raw. It’s all around you, overwhelming you with input that your mind can’t sort.
But when those feelings don’t come out on their own, when we are standing in front of the jumbled expanse of our own grief, we are lucky to have others around us who have stood in that same place. Each day in their grief they took a step back, and each day their hurt became more clear. And then they started to talk about it. To write about it. To sing about it. To create about it. To catalog their hurt, so that they could heal.
Then they gave it away, so we could heal too.
My friend Garett Potter is a giver of words that heal, and this is his poem.
A boat for my heart
I built a boat for my heart,
and tried to send it to myself in the mail,
but the post office closed
when the storms came
and I had to carry it in my palms—
God built a boat for my heart,
entrusted men to bring it to me,
in due time,
but the men got all the directions mixed up and varied–
confused assembly, confusing themselves;
I only got pieces
that might make a boat,
that might be from God,
but might not.
I built a boat for your heart,
but you kept it inside,
wouldn’t come let it out, at the dock,
so I rowed it alone,
carrying nothing but my solitude,
me and the oars, o’er and o’er.
My heart built a boat for itself
out of all the charred remains,
found them strewn about my sensory memory,
plucked them out from its sides and feet
and put them together to make new moments.
In the new moments,
my heart remembers how it never was but ought to have been.
It is a beautiful heart-boat
floating, sailing on the seas.
The wave-waters shimmer,
the moon is out,
it is rocking me to sleep.
Find more Garett HERE.