the wound

Random quote of the day:

“In many cases in psychiatry, the patient who comes to us has a story that is not told, and which as a rule no one knows of. To my mind, therapy only really begins after the investigation of that wholly personal story. It is the patient’s secret, the rock against which he is shattered. If I know that secret story, I have a key to the treatment. The doctor’s task is to find out how to gain that knowledge.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


I had a crappy week last week. I’d managed to pull a muscle in my ribcage the week before and not only had it not improved but by midweek last week, it was spasming and reflecting around my side and into my back. I missed work on Wednesday because of it, thought it a bit improved Thursday so went back to work. But by the time I drove home Thursday night it was flaring again. When I woke up Friday morning it seemed worse than ever, the spasming returned with a fierceness—and my stomach roiling and burning, too. Since it was also raining, I stayed home from work, called my friend and cancelled our dinner for Saturday night in Pasadena (I just wasn’t up to the drive), and went back to bed. I didn’t leave the house for three days.

I read and watched a lot of TV, ate bland food, took aspirin (which doesn’t usually bother my stomach and worked well for the muscle pain), wore a heating pad, tried to be as gentle with my side as possible. I had to resort to drinking chamomile tea to soothe the GERD-like acidity of my stomach. It works well. After that initial Friday, it was never as bad, but the heartburn never completely disappeared that whole weekend. Added to that, I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep. Even sleeping until noon, I was ready for bed again by 10.

Every television show I watched, including the news, was awash with Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day. I thought perhaps that might have something to do with my heartburn, but after three days alone in my house with nothing but my own thoughts and Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, I started contemplating all sorts of exotic maladies.

“I’ll call the doctor first thing on Monday,” I thought, although he’d seen me the week before when the pain in my side was just a muscle pull and not radiating into my back, and hadn’t seemed particularly worried.

Sunday night about 10:30 I was ready to go to bed again. I crawled gingerly into bed (so as not to set the pulled muscle off). The cat came in and got on the foot of the bed and commenced to clean herself.

I thought, “I sure am glad Mother’s Day is over.” Out of nowhere—I swear I don’t know where it came from, perhaps the Otherworld for all I know—but out of nowhere a noise erupted from my throat, part cri de coeur, part animal yowl, part choking sob, long and loud and reverberating against the walls and ceiling.

The cat looked up from licking her butt with an expression that clearly said, “What is your problem?”

“Sorry, kitty,” I told her.

I’d swear she shook her head and said, “Just get on with it, for crying out loud,” and went back to licking her butt.

I thought it very sound advice. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and felt ten times, a hundred times better. The muscle thing hasn’t completely gone away, but mostly. The acidity is almost nil. I can face the world again. I am not cured, won’t be for some time, I imagine. But I am definitely getting on with it.

Random quote of the day:

“Man is inconsolable, thanks to the eternal ‘Why?’ when there is no Why, that question mark twisted like a fishhook in the human heart.”

—Peter De Vries, The Blood of the Lamb


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

This entry is from February 29, 1998. Do I still agree with it? For the most part, I think I do.

I don’t know any serious artist who isn’t wounded in some way. Art is the thread Ariadne gave Theseus when he was sent into the Labyrinth towards the Minotaur. That thread, unwinding from the surface of the world, allows the artist to wander the dark and confusing ways of the Labyrinth to its core where the Minotaur waits. More importantly, once the Minotaur has been slain, that thread allows the serious artist to find a way back out of the underground and reemerge into the sunlight.

By serious artist, I don’t just mean someone who does serious art; I mean anyone who is compelled to do art of any kind, has no choice but to write it, paint it, enact it, sing it. Anyone who is possessed, even if they do art for no audience but themselves, uses that art to heal their soul. Soul not in a religious sense (at least not exclusively), but as a metaphor for that thing inside each of us which cries out to be more than the sum of our neuroses, our good and bad experiences. That thing deep inside which knows the right and wrong of our own heart.

Art is not the only way to steer this path through the Labyrinth, but it is the one which crosses the most boundaries of belief, because you don’t have to be of any particular credo to be an artist. You just have to have the need.