when you need it most

My daughter recently had a moment. One of those turbulent, inconsolable, tantrum type moments when, as a parent, you want to lock yourself in a closet and cry away the stress. Yet in spite of myself I was able to pull up my bootstraps, get down on the floor with her and provide a warm, loving hug, yet the response that I received brought a moment of pause. Between the gasps for air as she valiantly worked to stop her crying she asked "Why are you doing this?" Doing what I asked? "Why are you being nice to me? I don't deserve it." I then went on to explain that sometimes when we least deserve it, or feel we don't need it, is when we need it most.

I later came to the realization that exploring our creative outlets is akin to an essential hug. We often need it most when we're too busy, too distracted or simply not in the groove. Julia Cameron's morning pages ritual is a practice of freehand writing, three pages of thought without filtering, without interruption, that provide a creative cleanse. As artists, these observations later come forth in our work, literally or in subtle hints that dance among the canvas. It is a necessity to our beings.

The practice of viewing art, savoring the richness of a good theatrical experience or taking in the sights and sounds of a pulsing city is as therapeutic and cleansing as any other ritual. Truth told, it is becoming the life source for my art, a wellspring of visual stimulation and mental clarity for my sanity. I think George Bernard Shaw said it best, "Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." Just as life without a hug would make our existence unlivable.