We were painting on a large piece of paper meant for oils...he said just play...don't think about it...and so I took brushes and paint globs (really nice Sennelier paint globs) and palette knives and pushed some paint around on paper. It was really nice to talk and laugh and listen to good music (David Bowie, Randy Newman, Feist, Todd Rundgren, the Kinks) over wine and pulling paint. There was something very childlike about being freed to play an have no limits.
Childhood takes me to sadness, so we talked about that too...about how he enjoyed sadness as a child. Enjoyed sadness! I thought, a little surprised and brightly curious. Enjoy sadness? Of course...there is a certain pleasure in knowing you are alive and human. He said poetic sadness...aesthetic sadness.
Aesthetic sadness....your aesthetic is how you curate your life...your people, your food, your vocation, your activity in the world. What is your aesthetic? How does it nurture and complete you? And aesthetic sadness surely comes from longing for an aesthetic you have yet to successfully cultivate.
Such longings have found a home in me, have recently sprung up as a major awakening of deep hungers. Like a hungry child, a screaming, hungry child, my hungers took over and tried so hard to be filled. Hunger for family, hunger for partner, hunger for touch, hunger for so much more of life...more music, more movies...more aesthetic. I forgot that hunger is a hollow that can be overwhelming and cause others to recoil at the strength of its ache...for they know it is not theirs to soothe. I forgot the hunger is the force that compels the child and not the wise patience of the adult.
I forgot the hunger had to do with not being wanted, literally not being wanted. And I wonder how some children can wriggle off uncaring about whether they were wanted or not and yet how I have held on to this grief, have believed a lie that somehow if I corrected my innate flaws I could earn back the wanting...I could be wanted and accepted and safe. But I forgot myself.
And so play is the answer...for in wandering creative paths one can heal the sad children inside and feed them well. Playful art is a re-membering.