When words take flight – Happy New Year 2017

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2016

It’s a wonderful feeling when seemingly out of nothing, the words emerge, one after another to form a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, a story. Slowly at first, then the pace quickens until it seems like the story is writing itself, as if you are just a transcriber of events. A city rises in front of you, fills with people and life, it’s the future or the 1960’s or a world war trench. Then the specifics, a yellow dress, red lips, and a gallant lift of the hat as the two meet.

In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (French original: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon), Jean-Dominique Bauby reminds us that whatever circumstances, the mind is free like a butterfly, even if the body is locked inside a diving bell. He would know better than most of us, his circumstances being as they were. A massive stroke left him with locked-in syndrome, physically paralyzed and only able to communicate by blinking his left eye. That’s how he dictated his story, blink by blink, four hours a day for ten months. 200,000 blinks, an average of two minutes per word, 29 chapters, 130+ pages.

“My diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court. You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realize your childhood dreams and adult ambitions.”

With our creativity, we invent worlds that didn’t exist until we draw them or tell them or write them. Our craft is one that requires discipline and hard work every day, blink by blink, letter by letter, stroke by stroke. We create and revise and re-create constantly, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes filled with frustration when the creative flow comes to a halt for natural or forced reasons.

Facts will never move the human heart like storytelling can. Highly creative people, especially artists, know this and weave stories into everything they do. It takes longer for them to explain something, explaining isn’t the point. The experience is.
— Kevin Kaiser, 20 Things Only Highly Creative People Would Understand

May 2017 find you expressing yourself to the fullest, creating cities and streets full of people, and tales that touch hearts and even change minds when harsh winds blow. Because words matter. Art matters in troubled times.

Words are powerful. They can entertain, inform, and make small minds tremble. On this New Year’s Eve, let’s pause for a moment to remember all those free spirits jailed for speaking their mind.


If I had the skills of a wordsmith
and my words were stained black and white
by power-hungry, greedy small men
        who commanded me
        to dress like this
        or pray like that
        or to live like this
        or love like that
        or mute my voice,
        as if I were their property
        and the nation’s assets were their wallet,
I pray I would have the courage
to stretch my wings
and let my words fly

Maybe you would hear me
and maybe, if I were silenced,
you would set an empty chair in my place
        to put shame on these small men
        who cling to their absolutes
        and tremble at our words

Then, when I looked at myself
I would see my true colors

(c) Zol H, 2016

Sidebar photo: deborah169/Pixabay.com

#ArtMatters #WordsMatter #FreedomOfSpeech

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