Someone asked me the other day if my time would be better spent trying to monetize the hours and hours I spend doodling. If it wouldn’t be a better idea to create sellable products during that time rather than filling page after page and journal after journal with squiggles and pictures that very few people see.
I didn’t dignify him with an answer. I just smiled. Poor thing. He just sees life as a means to get stuff. To make moolah. To be successful. To consume.
I’ve tried explaining this pastime to him before but he cannot see and refuses to believe that doodling, for me, is meditation. Doodling for me is prayer. Doodling for me is a time for solitude, gratitude and reflection. Doodling grounds me. Doodling is therapy. Doodling is self-regulation and a way for me to reach inside and hug the parts of my soul that need to be comforted.
The crazy thing is that it just happens automatically when one doodles. There is no right or wrong way to scribble on a scrap of paper. Research shows that random acts of drawing connects both sides of your brain, helps reduce stress and results in powerful meditative and relaxation outcomes coupled with an amazing sense of well-being.
Do me a favor. Take a blank piece of paper and a pen. Any pen. And no matter how bad of an artist you think you are, start making patterns. Any patterns. Just mess around. Do spirals. Then circles. And connect them. Then fill some circles in. Draw some squiggles. Let the pen draw by itself.
Within seconds you will feel a change inside. I guarantee it. Nobody has to see your squiggles. If nobody sees ‘em you won’t feel judged. And if you start judging yourself, remember this is just a bunch of squiggles on a piece of paper not a test of your ability to draw a likeness.
A number of years ago my friend Danny Gregory’s wonderful wife Patti (who was a dear friend and mentor of mine until she took her own life last year) was run over by a subway train and nearly killed. With a now permanently wheelchair-bound wife and a four month old son, Danny started drawing for the first time in his life after the accident. His drawings are loose and squiggly and simple. He put his drawings together in an amazing book called Everyday Matters as part of his coping strategy and healing therapy. The book is a bestseller.
He says in the book, “My drawings began as a way to count my blessings. To study, capture and catalog the things that, despite everything, make my life rich. I try to feel these blessings, to become part of them and their source whatever that is… and that ‘communion’, not theses drawings, is the reason I draw.”
An example of how drawing enriches my life is this self-portrait I did of me in the army when I was a young man. While I was drawing it something stirred deep inside me and I began to remember a few of my army buddies who died before their time… like Colin Abrahams, Howard Remmington and Jeff Mitchell. And other friends who died so young like Anthony Corna and Mark Campbell.
And it reminded me of army pals like Shani, who has been to hell and back.
The more I doodled around this picture the more their smiling faces began to swirl inside my heart. Like a convoluted lifeline the doodles actually connected me back to my friends. And now, thanks to a cheapo pen and a piece of paper, instead of my friends being muddled up in a gray pile of lost memories, I am able to keep their wonderful spirits alive in my heart.
Only the forgotten… are truly dead.
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