Friday, December 30, 2011

Torment and Imagination: A Gateway to Creativity or Madness?

In the story, Emily handles her torment and abuse by escaping into her imagination. Her life is fraught with difficulties and every day she has to navigate around an abusive and sadistic father. Her world is difficult to bear, so she creates a world that is woven in happiness and suits her kind nature. Emily spends a lot of time drawing and writing, and creating her own bearable world as a shield to the world she has to face whenever her father is around. Emily is, by nature, a sensitive person which compounds the impact that abuse has on her. It follows a natural transition that Emily's nature is in direct contrast to her father's abusive nature and would result in the use of her imagination to protect her from harm. This begs the question, if Emily lived in a happy environment with loving parents - would her imagination flourish? If adversity fuels the imagination and creativity - how far can it reach before it crosses over into madness?

In Pages in the Wind, there is a passage in the beginning of the book that illustrates how her imagination rescues her from the torment of her father:

"It was a typical sunny day and Emily got up early before the rest of the family, and quickly dressed and walked quietly to the front porch. This was a special time of day for her. The house was silent and the world was quiet. All she could hear were the thoughts within her own mind, uninterrupted by the terrifying shouting of her father. She would sit on the porch, her favorite place and the place where Reid would always wait for her. She would have a pencil and a tablet with her during these quiet times, for Emily loved to draw. She would always draw the same thing - faces of girls. She was talented at drawing and could capture an imaginary girl in her mind, draw her face as she imagined it, and fantasize an entire life around the picture. For hours she would sketch, not missing a detail of who this girl was. She would imagine what kind of life this girl lived, and the people that surrounded the imaginary girl's life. She would draw for hours, lost in her rapid and endless imagination, until her fantasy world was interrupted by the terrifying sound of her father's voice."

So - I wonder, where will this imagination lead? Surely Emily would rather live in her imaginary world as opposed to the wicked world imposed by her father. If the mind creates thoughts and perceptions - which world is real? Will her imagined world collide with her real world? What is the impact of prolonged trauma on the young mind?

What do you think?

Friday, December 9, 2011


It's a whisper, not a shout.   As the young mind develops, his beliefs align with what is right in front of him.  He believes what his parent or guardian tells him, because he hasn't been exposed to other ideas and accepts what the apparent all-knowing adult tells him.  Unfortunately, as in Emily's case in Pages in the Wind, her belief system is flawed and harmful to her self esteem.  As she develops, and is exposed to other people, her belief system is challenged.  It is confusing, but in that confusion there is an opening.  It is in the form of a whisper, something said that is in direct opposition to what she has been taught to believe, and an important seed is planted.  After a simple game at the park, her friend Reid makes a casual comment about her father, which calls into question what she has believed for ten years.

I walked slowly up the stairs to my front porch, pretending to go inside so I could watch Reid when he turned around.  Somehow I thought that I could figure out what he meant by watching him walk home.  My mind was as cloudy as the June gloom of morning, but I wanted to understand what he meant.  Something was said that was significant but I didn’t know what it was.  Reid opened a door that had never been opened in my mind.  I wasn’t sure what door it was, but as I opened the door to my house I knew that it was important and held an element of truth that I had never dared think about.

Whispers that challenge flawed thinking or beliefs can be life-changing, especially if the whisper comes early.  Of course, in the case of extreme abuse, we wish that we could elevate the whisper to a shout.  Still, if a whisper can open a closed door ever so slightly - it can let in the light.  In the light, there is hope.  For Emily, the hope is that the whisper will provide enough light to challenge years of flawed thinking and a damaged self image.

I wonder, have you ever listened to a whisper that made a difference in your life?