The Poppy Girl and the mysteries of the mind

My friend and artist, Leina Wann created a fabric art piece, entitled The Poppy Girl.* When I first saw her, she took my breath away.  First, because I saw a powerful, bold image and second because it is so different from Leina’s more recent pieces of art.  (Check out her work here.)  

I took a breath at that first look, and a sadness came over me.  I saw a lonely little girl facing an unknown world all by herself.  It reminded of my friend who came here from Taiwan with her sister when she was 15.  Her loving mother died and her father left to make a life in America.  The image of the Poppy Girl reflected to me the sadness I knew my friend experienced growing up.  When she arrived in the states, her father had remarried.  The welcome she received from her new stepmother was not warm.  Being in a whole new world, new language, and no loving place to hold her was a brutal reality.  So, at first glance, the Poppy Girl was a pile of unhappy thoughts and sadness.

A second look at The Poppy Girl, and surprise!  I had a very different feeling -- hope.  I saw the Poppy Girl holding on to the flower for support and courage.  The future ahead was filled with a great expanse of beautiful, colorful opportunities.  The girl and her poppy were set up for a great adventure!

Isn’t this fascinating?  We know that no two people will interpret or recreate a situation exactly the same way.  But we are talking about me, only one person with 2 points of view on the same situation.   Isn’t this a perfect example of how the mind works?   On one hand, I have a sad story to tell and I see hopelessness and feel sad; on the other hand, a joyful story and hope and adventure appear with a feeling of anticipation and excitement. 

The story I tell myself – the sentences in my head – reach into the great morass of my memory and like a claw picker at the county fair, attract all the sad stories and feelings that I have felt in my whole life.  What is the relationship of those memories to the present?  Only what my mind makes of them.

And what of hope?  If it too is just a story in my head, does it mean that it isn’t real?  When I feel hopeless, I don’t do much.  When I feel joy, you can find me singing and engaging in life.  Either action will end up with a result.  A day hiding under the covers having a pity party or a day of productivity.

This is such good news because if there is a result I want or a goal that I want to achieve – can’t I make this process work in my favor?  What do you think?  Are there situations that you have had in your life that you can interpret in a new way?  Is there a difficult situation you are in right now that can be looked at from a different angle?  What do you see in The Poppy Girl?  Love to get your comments below.

*The Poppy Girl is part of an exhibit at Tulista Park Gallery, Seiler, Sidney, British Columbia, and August 31 to September 4