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PERSONAL GRAVEYARDS


First let me say that I think everyone needs a “personal graveyard”; because we all have grievances which need to be buried.

What do you do with the small niggling thoughts flying around in your memory that need to be forgotten? It speaks poorly of me to admit that I remember all of them. They may come unbidden at odd times, but especially when lying quietly in bed trying hard to think of nothing. These are the troubles which need to go right back into Pandora’s box because that was yesterday’s story.

Years ago I took a boy having prepubescent troubles to visit a gallery show I had just hung to get his take on the paintings. The boy was a budding artist with potential in computers as well as in painting. The featured artist had recently recovered from a serious illness and I wanted to show how her choice of color had influenced her painting.

The first room of the gallery showed the artist’s illness in very dark paintings with lots of black and red. In the other two rooms we hung her “I’m all over it, take me out to the ballgame” paintings. The young boy “got it”.

I recognize that we all don’t paint, but choose your own way to bring these feelings out into the open just to give them some air.

During my lifetime I have collected memories both good and bad. I long ago chose to paint them all, making it my personal graveyard. I slashed the canvas and splashed it with paint and small icons for parts of my life for which I had anger; codes only I knew, I gritted my teeth and got myself into a real snit, and then I put it up in the attic.

We are at the stage of life when we need to get rid of things we no longer need; it was a good time to visit the attic.

Dragging out old ancestral pictures and bad paintings of my own, I came upon my personal graveyard painting and found I no longer remember why I painted it.

When we leave this house someday, as we all must do, I will tell my children to “toss it in the bin with the rest of them.”

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14 comments on “PERSONAL GRAVEYARDS

  1. Oh, Kayti. I also have personal graveyards. All those things mulling or milling around the place. I have kept the best of my paintings and sometimes when I visit people that we know, I am pleased to see a painting or two I did years ago.
    There are paintings in my head that need hanging but are now just done in words. They don’t take much room and leave me free of clutter or dried out brushes. I am sure that they too might get cleaned out when the time comes galloping.

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    • There are the painting in our heads and the half finished paintings resting against walls waiting for a return of the inspiration which began them. I think you’re right about the ones in our heads clearing out someday. Something else will take their place. Meanwhile keep painting with your words, they are enough.

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  2. One thing I love about getting older is: I still get mad but the next minute I can’t remember what it was that I was so mad about.

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    • Sometimes the smallest things can make us the maddest. Usually coming at a time of hurry or illness. I find I am my own worst enemy as most of us are. If some part of our anatomy doesn’t work the way we want it to, or even if some part of our family doesn’t work the way we want them to! (No names please)

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  3. I agree we all need (or we have them anyway) personal graveyards for our sorrows. The key is to make them open-air graveyards which I think is what you’re saying here (not dark, unopened crypts).

    In Women Who Run With Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes has a great analysis of the part in the Bluebeard story when the youngest daughter finally fits the key in the lock and opens the door and sees the dead and mutilated bodies of her husband’s former wives. CPE says something along the lines that opening the door and having the courage to look into the dark, unspeakable space and see the “dead selves” (my words) is essential for any woman (and, she could have said, any human being).

    What happened to the young boy? Did he follow art? x

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    • We need to recognize them for what they are: in many cases misunderstandings. We all see things differently, and what is true for one person, is not true for another. The old saying, supposedly from some Native American, “Walk a mile in his moccasins,” is true. The bad thoughts we keep hidden only hurt ourselves, rusting us from the inside.

      No the boy took a long time to figure out what he wanted to do. He is now playing in a band and apparently happy. I hope so. He has much to offer the world.

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  4. Ah aunt Kayti this is sweet and reminds me of your sweet time with Johnny. Thanks for trying to reach him and taking the time to do so. Love you!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  5. Hello, AK, from far away,

    You have aptly written about the old ghosts (paintings, if you will) or old stories or old musical scores that represent what Jung called the Shadow. As several of your commenters observed, we all have them. As we age, we realize we don’t have as much time to purge these ghosts and let them free. Narelle is so right about making them “open air graveyards, not dark claustrophobic crypts.”

    When I lie in bed at night and ruminate on either my own graveyard or someone else’s, and find that anxiety or sadness begins to creep up my pillow, I pretend that I am a little boat out to sea. I see my harbor and my tether. I sail toward it and tie up safely. Then, I let go of everything and feel much better.

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  6. Hello Far Away! There is a song somewhere in my memory which has the phrase “brighten up the corner where you are” in it. I always thought it meant something more than to make yourself more pleasant to be around. More like “take control of those dark thoughts.”
    Interesting that your rescuer is a boat and water. Mine is a small sailboat slipping slowly around a tree-covered point. I keep waiting for it to come closer.

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  7. My personal graveyard is composed of sentences, paragraphs, and short pieces I’ve written, poorly and with anger or hurt feelings, and stored in my “Everything’s Awful” box, which I’ve kept since my first year of marriage and teaching. Every so often, I read the contents, shake my head, and empty the box. In the last twenty years, very little writing has found its way into it. I loved this post, Kayti.

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