“What was your wife like?” I asked the jovial old man telling me his story. He hadn’t mentioned his home life.
“Well, she was born in April. Hitler was born in April too, wasn’t he?” and with that, I got the picture that she was a very frustrated woman. I refuse to believe that people are created evil, not even Hitler. People can create hell on Earth for themselves and others, that’s inarguable. However, this is not the intention for our lives.
I believe we come to this Earth sinners and somehow, through trials and tribulations, we are to heal and that to me means we don’t return in the flesh form to the physical world.
So had this man’s wife healed of her tyranny? Did Hitler find healing in his final moments?
I will never know these mysteries as it was strictly between these people and their creator. I can only speak of my own life experience thus far as a middle-aged upper-middle-class housewife living in one of the leafy suburbs of the north shore. During the month of April, right before Easter, darkness descended upon me. Fury, frustration, feeling out of control, wanting to bring order to things, criticism and judgment of myself and projections onto others were felt strongly and they put me into the dark, cold, sterile place that is the prison of one’s own mind.
Like Hitler’s, my mother’s birthday is also in April. I thought it would be a generous gesture to create the time and space to really be with her and get to know her as a person.
I asked her questions about her childhood and she shared her memories with me. Those were the most magical moments I ever shared with her. Then I started writing the book.
“Mum, the book is going to be great! I’m so inspired and honoured to be doing this project.” I told her in earnest. For the first time in my life, I felt a closeness to this woman who’d given birth to me. I could see deep into her soul. She’d let me in for once.
“Such a waste of time. Don’t you have anything better to do with your life? What are you cooking for your husband and children?” and all that was left for me to do was pick up the shattered pieces of my heart off the floor. That was the day darkness came and I found myself yelling orders around my house. I wanted control over my life. Why weren’t my bloody kids listening to me and obeying my commands? I stopped writing and out went fun and the colours. Chores and discipline were important. All else was a waste of time.
As It Is In Heaven
I believe we all come to this Earth knowing what we are here to do. One of my recent flashbacks showed me that I was a child busily daydreaming of the titles of all the books I’d write as an adult. I’d forgotten all about my childhood dreams up until a few years ago. I only started writing after David Bowie left Earth in what seemed an abrupt way to me. His carefully planned departure woke me up to the fact that we are here for only a short time.
I think this dark, irritated and irritating self full of fury is something we all have within us as humans. I’d forgotten its presence and the monster laying dormant came to me at a time of self-doubt as I began to get close to my mother and to finishing up the manuscript of my first book. Though my parents were and are emotionally negligent, believing only in the power of material things, I did not suffer physical or other types of abuse. The dark abyss formed within me might never be capable of mass destruction. However, at times I do wonder what I might be destroying when dictating to my people that “it’s my way or the highway”. That state of mind is a one-way autobahn to hell.
What about the people we label as “pure evil”? Are we all responsible for creating them by turning a blind eye to our own darkness? Can we be more conscious these days knowing that there’s this dark fury circling in even the harmless appearing housewife?
One thing that struck me was that Hitler started his career as an artist.
The old man I’d been interviewing was a World War II buff and had many books on the subject, including historical fiction about Hitler. I asked him about Hitler the artist.
“I can’t imagine he was any good.”
Who decides what is good art and what isn’t? On Google, I looked up Hitler’s paintings and found he’d done many landscapes. They had an oddly two-dimensional quality about them yet does that make them “bad”?
What if Hitler had been admitted to art school and found his own tribe among other people who were moved by the beauty of nature? Would he have tried so hard then to set up a party to make disheartened and hopeless Germans feel like they belonged? What if his physically abusive father (a product of abuse himself) had encouraged his artistic ambitions instead of forcing him to become a civil servant?
The Nature of Destruction
Something was destroyed within you and me. We all lost part of ourselves and forgot our childhood dreams in the process of trying to fit the moulds society has defined for us. Art should be a certain way and only those from the right background shall be artists we continue to dictate. This concept of the artist, and who isn’t one, is something we all created.
So the cycle continues. We go on ignoring our creative drive. We look at other people’s paintings and either see genius or total failure not knowing that what we project onto the canvas is our own forgotten abilities and artistic potential.
In my case, it was judging others’ writing. I was a blocked writer. Not writing had made me as noxious as a Calcutta sewer to borrow a phrase from Robert McKee. Along the way, I discouraged and poisoned many would-be writers. How many of those people went on to commit crimes against humanity, I can’t know for certain. I live on the north shore, so my guess is probably none – but they may have gone on to neglect to pick up their dog’s poop bummed out that they may be bad writers.
Is my mother to blame for the cycle of destruction? No. Her mother discouraged her worse than Mum has discouraged me to express my true self. So am not playing the blame game here. I’m suggesting that the destruction ends with me and yet, it doesn’t. I get knocked into the darkness of forcing my will onto others less powerful, like my children.
The antidote to evil may just be seeing someone as they are and encouraging their creative efforts. Why do we go silent and pretend we don’t see and hear people when they’re expressing truths that we may not have yet encountered in our own lives? Are we that terrified of ourselves that we may be just as “worthless” as the people we don’t deem “good enough”?
If someone is creating something, any piece of writing, art, or offering a thought in conversation, isn’t that worthy of encouragement? Isn’t this the human thing to do?
My hope for my daughters is that I encourage their creativity. And others I meet along the way. Reader, you are supported. And if I ignore you, keep trying. Be assured that you are speaking to that part of me I’ve blinded myself to. The more we help each other see (not with our eyes but with our hearts) the more inclusive and rich our conversations will be. I am convinced of this.
Over to you…
When do you feel the tyrant within you rising? Have you experienced the pain of killing off your relationships in your misguided attempts to prove superiority? Do you understand that wanting to suppress others comes from your own childhood wounds?
How will you work with this pain to create an interesting body of work as a creative (and all human beings are creative)?
Note: The picture of Hitler is by Brett Whitely, who perhaps felt the fury of unchanneled creativity by those who projected the role of “artist” onto him. With that, the pressure to be “the artist” was on and it was a job.