Moving my hand across the sheet of paper never really seemed like a big deal to me. I love the feel of paper, and how a brush feels in my hand. People come up to me all the time and tell me how great it is to be able to draw. And of course they turn their heads from side to side and pooh-poohed the notion that I put out – that everyone can draw. Someone asked “how does it feel like when you draw?”
I love swimming. I love pools, specifically. Not the ocean, because I freak out when I saw dead corals one time and I get anxious at the idea of not having my feet touch ground. I imagine that there are things in the water waiting to grab my legs and pull me down when my friends are busy playing. Yes, I’ve tried getting over it, but this was the only thing that I couldn’t get past. Heights? Repelling and roller coaster rides blunted the fear. Staircases? I hardly remember that I once was scared of it. Anyway, back to the water.
I didn’t know how to swim until I was a teenager. Back then I swam only on the shallow end. The end that when you stood up the water reaches your waist. The sissy end – my friends would call it. At first I didn’t want to join them, but it got lonely. I asked myself – what was the worst thing that could happen? Drowning? Just hang on to the side and you’ll be fine. What if your leg cramps up and you can’t move them? Just hang on to the side and you’ll be fine. Fine.
So I made my way over to the deep end.
And slowly over the next few weeks, I found that I could float quite well. And I drifted away from the edges, letting go of the reassuring feel of the mosaic under my fingers and the sound of the lapping water against the hidden water overflow outlets. Swimming wasn’t hard at all, I thought. I could tread water in a way that made my father proud (he’s a water baby!) with just my legs keeping me afloat. And I wouldn’t drown even if I just used my hands.
Bobbing against the water and I found myself relaxing – I was using my body to stay afloat, but it was rhythmic and automatic, and not struggling spasms, like before. It felt good. I felt great.
And I moved further away from the edge. I did underwater somersaults. Backward flips, front-freewheeling balls. I was weightless, and I never felt freer in my life.
Drawing, to me, reminds me of being in the water. Where not only is my mind free to wander and to do backflips, but my hand as well. I draw from my shoulder, and not just my wrist – I move my arm and my shoulder, just like I would as I float in a pool.
I don’t fight the water, I embrace it – and I can feel myself melt into the invisible pores of the water, as if we are one.
It’s exactly how I feel with a brush in my hand.
I allow it to take over; hand, body, mind, and heart. And it feels like I’m swimming.
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How does it feel like for you? Whether you’re drawing, painting, or creating – what goes through your mind when you’re in the flow?
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[Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo]
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