Thursday, August 6, 2009

Writing Your Life

I met Patricia Charpentier at a Cajun concert. Her last name definitely has a Cajun ring and she had researched her family history for many generations back. As I sketched at that concert she was looking over my shoulder and after the concert we talked for a while. I found out she teaches a writing workshop so I asked if she would mind if I sketched one of the classes.
Several months later when I arrived at the Marks Street Senior Center, I met Patricia in the parking lot and she showed me the way to the classroom. The Senior Center is a beautiful warm pink stucco building in a Spanish Colonial style.

The classroom quickly filled up and everyone introduced themselves and told a brief story about a unique incident that had happened in their life. Morrie told a harrowing story about living in the depression and not having enough food. He found a pear tree in an alley and returned that night to secretly pick some pears. Morrie's job was to keep watch while the other boys picked the pears. He realized he might not get any pears if he was just standing watch so he climbed up as well. Suddenly a huge burly man started yelling and all the boys ran for their lives. He got his pants leg caught on a fence post nail and hung upside down helpless. He kept quiet and thankfully that man never saw his legs above the fence. Later some rustling startled him again and it was the boys who came back to help get him down. Morrie has a small book published called "Sundays with Morrie".

The class was organized much like a sketch class with quick short exercises to begin and then longer writing sessions build upon the ideas discovered in the short exercises. After each writing session people would volunteer to read what they had written. Some of the stories were truly heart wrenching and others filled with joy. It was a wonderful sketching experience and I felt blessed to be able to hear these life stories.

Mary Hill, a late arrival spoke with me after the class. She had treated herself to the workshop because it was her birthday. She explained that she was taking care of her ailing mother. She also talked about the the courses she had taken in California that covered the more mystical side of healing. Doctors in America tend to be pushing drugs as the solution to all problems. Mary feels that the simple act of touch can offer healing. She told me about an instructor who could sense her feelings just with a phone call. The mystical forms of heeling she talked about were outside my understanding but I was intrigued.

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