A while back, I wrote several articles about the Wild Things that inhabit the human psyche. Those dreams or things we were interested in but that somehow got cut off, blocked in the course of the Socialization Process, sent into the netherworld because they were not appropriate or acceptable for some reason. They are very often the source of creative urges and activities that we either ignore or forget we ever had because they were not received well at the time.
I have spent some amount of time searching out those wild creatures that reside in me. Writing is only one of them, both prose and poetry. Music is another, listening and singing it. If you have been reading here for the past few months, you know that I am now engaged in coloring, especially that of the Mandala, which is a Universal symbol of the life cycle and balance within that cycle.
I think I understood that my current fascination was yet another one of those Wild Things inside of me, but I was so eager to engage in the actual activity that I didn’t do much exploring as to where it might have originated, just knew that I really loved doing it, so did.
Last night, after fixing dinner for my Mother and myself, I was coloring yet another design as we talked quietly. She asked me some questions which, in turn, led me to tell her a story about an experience I had in high school, a small quiet revolt I had led to get what I wanted ( I was definitely into some level of rebellion back then, as most of us do during that time period). What amazed me was that it led directly back to that Wild Thing that now engages in Mandala coloring and a vague desire to design my own creations.
Back in the early 60’s, there was no such thing as the Women’s Movement. That didn’t occur for almost two more decades. However, there were a great many rules meant to help future citizens conform and become what Society thought was best and acceptable for them. I was interested in Art and as soon as I got into public school (ninth grade), chose to take that class. Of course, I also had to take Home Ec. which I really didn’t enjoy at all. Problem was, that I didn’t know about all of the rules.
Back then and in the city where I lived, one could only take two years of Art. There was a loop hole for a very few. If you were good enough to stand out, you might be selected to become an assistant to the Art Instructor and that meant you could legally be enrolled in Art classes for the entire four years of high school. Once I understood that reality, it became my goal.
In tenth grade, I became aware of two things. One, that I was lacking in hands-on knowledge of perspective drawing. And two, that there was something called Drafting classes that taught, as part of the basics, just that subject matter. Problem: Drafting was only open to male students.
I began a quiet, one conversation at a time, campaign. Eventually, I had six other girls (the best Artists, of course) convinced that if we actually wanted two more years of Art classes, it might be really important to get into those Drafting classes. We went, as a group, to the girl’s counselor and asked why we couldn’t do just that. And we were told, “Because those are all boy classes.” I argued that we were the best at what we did and if we were to be the Art Teacher’s assistants, as was most likely to occur, it might be invaluable for us to have that hands-on knowledge etc. She caved.
The following semester, we were told that we could do one semester of Drafting. But, the school had worked out a way to discourage this budding rebellion. There were seven of us. The school day had six hours, one of which was used for lunch for students and teachers alike.
Each girl was placed alone inside a classroom filled with boys, and with a Drafting Instructor who very openly frowned on girls in his classroom. Two of us were allowed to take the class together with the other Instructor who was quiet, relaxed and sort of interested in what all of this would mean. Those two were myself and my very best friend. Eventually, each of the other girls dropped out because they were definitely made to feel that they had trespassed.
My friend Mary and I, excelled and got the top grades in that classroom. The teacher was always complimenting us on our neatness and attention to detail, as well as the artistic flare we brought to each assignment. The boys were, for the most part, sophomores and hadn’t gotten into their rebellion yet, so they ignored us. I loved that class.
Although I was asked, and accepted, the teacher’s assistant position, I wished I could take more Drafting classes. I had a very quiet small wish to get involved in Architecture. Wrote a very detailed essay, which included a hand drawn blueprint for an illustration, about that desire for an English class. Got an A+ and a cryptic note from the English Teacher explaining that the A+ was for the writing skills I had displayed and that I needed to realize that Architecture was a male profession and I would more than likely never even be accepted into a school of that nature. End of wistful, wishful thinking.
Yet, here I am, all these many years ( and lives) later, trying to convince myself that I can’t possibly design a structure that is based on mathematical calculations and perspective drawing. Each time I see, inside my head, a design for a Mandala I’d like to create but tell myself I can’t do such a thing, that Wild Thing inside of me is howling at how easily I dismiss it.
Think its time to set him (definitely a male aspect) free? Whew! Talk about slow on the uptake. Amazingly enough, I purchased a brand new compass and protractor at a rummage sale last weekend. Now, why would I do that?
This is the Mandala I was coloring while telling my story to my Mother. It was designed by Marc Bove http://www.mandalarbre.com/
All the while I colored it, I couldn’t make up my mind what to title it. My choices were either Two-Toned, or Dichotomies. And my Mother, who only started painting after she turned sixty, insisted that I use the red to complete the final circle of the Mandala. Red is a symbol for passion, strong feelings, and creative fire. I almost missed that one.