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Just Floating Around

Digging has its place. Brick-laying has its place too. And so does floating.

Dearest Doodle Soupster,

The artwork below is titled, “Float” from my Layers collection.

“Float” watercolor painting by Nicole Sylvia Javorsky

How much of what we perceive has to do with depth? The willingness to peel back layers and to look underneath? To scratch the surface, get a peek, and then keep digging deeper and deeper and deeper?

Healing feels like an ongoing process of peeling back layers and building new ones. To lift a mossy rock and dig through the dirt underneath. And to build a home where I can be free on newfound solid ground.

But why include “Float” in a series about layers? How does it belong?

Duality is a common thread in my artwork. And so in a body of work about layers, about depth, about digging deeper, about building upon what’s already here … there is space for a simple watercolor.

This is the flip side of layers.

And it is itself a layer too. But it’s also expressing something separate that is always there, something that just exists regardless of all the peeling back, all the brick-laying, all the foundation-forming, all the lifting of mossy rocks to see what’s underneath.

And we need this. I need this.

Even as I examine, as I peel back the layers of my past and as I build toward my future, I need to float too. To just be here in the present.

The present moment is somehow the most grounded and also least grounded place. It is being right here yet also the meaning of right here changes. The words fall away. The constructs of the mind fade to the transparent, become invisible, become a part of the air we breathe.

What does it mean to be here? How does our perception of time influence our experience of living? What does it mean to float?

I carry some deep wounds that tell me I shouldn't write like this, shouldn’t create like this, shouldn’t be so complicated.

The little monsters that guard the cracks in my heart tell me, “Oh please. Can’t you find a way to be more normal, more understandable? More like everyone else? Oh please. No one will hear you when you’re like this. No one will hear you.”

In other words, “Don’t you know that being yourself is too much of a liability?”

In other words, “Don’t be naive. No one will pay attention long enough to get you. Just stop already.”

And why? Why do the little monsters repeat these warnings? I don’t need them anymore.

The truth is I really don’t want to be anyone other than my complicated, messy, floaty, hyper focus then zone out, philosophical, curious, creative, stubborn self. Because this is who I am. I want to be seen like this. I want to be heard, just like this.

I don’t want to paint over my complicatedness and cover it up and sum it up and say this one liner right here is all that I am.

No matter what I paint, each painting makes way for the next one. No matter what I ask, each question makes way for another. No matter what I write, each sentence, each story makes way for more.

I whisper into the caverns of my chest, “Hey, it’s alright. You make sense. You are who you are for a reason. It’s time to trust that. It’s time to let yourself shine exactly as you are. You believe in this? Then, believe in it. And it’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel trepidation. The fear doesn't make any of this less real or less valid. Simple and true? I want you to be you.”

And there’s still a part of me that believes I’m only useful as an artist or a storyteller if my storyline is clear and unwavering. There’s still a part of me that fears no one will make space for what I have to share.

It’s an old wound. And old wounds still speak. They don’t stop talking just because I’d rather they’d go away sometimes, because I don’t want to hear it sometimes.

Emotional experiences from the past play on loop in the background of my psyche. I was dying. And I tried to get the words out. I could never seem to put it just right. I thought I found someone who’d listen, who’d help me feel less alone. And I was abused. What do I do with that?

And I couldn't get the words out. I couldn't speak my truth. I said stop, stop. But I couldn’t yell. Why couldn’t I yell? Why couldn’t I scream?

Something inside of me felt dead. Deadened. I don’t know. The echoes of earlier abuse. My screams that weren’t heard. My kicking that did no good. My fighting back that only led to deeper wounds. My speaking up that only made me feel more helpless and less understood.

What do I do with that?

What do I do with the echoes of the past?

What do I do with the wisdom embedded in the cuts and bruises that I don’t want to speak of?

What do I do with my history?

What do I do with my story?

It’s not clearcut, or clean-cut.

I live and breathe duality. Complication. The past in my present. The strength I’ve developed over time that I bring with me into each new day. The hopes for future me I held onto in my past, I hold onto in my present.

Nature soothes me. It also reminds me that I am not so strange. Being a survivor is not akin to being alien, even when I feel alien and alienated. Survival is common. It’s woven into the fabric of existence.

And yet what is more wild, more embedded in nature, than predation? The very predation I ache over. The very predation that confuses and grieves me to my core, still.

So yes, I will create art. I name a collection of artworks Layers and I include a painting that may not appear related and yet it is. And I name a collection of artworks Love Letters to Mother Earth and though the pieces may look very different one to the next, I invite viewers (you!) to find the connections and make new connections, ones that are personal to you.

Each collection or series of artwork is my way of stating, “Hey, these works are grouped around this theme. I have my own reasons for this. I see the through-lines. What do you see? I invite you to reflect on how the works relate to the theme. I invite you to make meaning too.”

Sometimes, I think there are answers here. Other times, I think there are only questions.

But what is more transformative than a question? What is a more powerful aid in finding our way in this world than a question?

It’s distinct from overthinking, which is a whole other beast. As psychologist Dr. Nicole LePera writes, “The mind over-thinks when the body is dysregulated.”

I like the idea of distinguishing it this way - active mind vs scared mind.

The scared mind asks, “What if? Oh no, what if this other thing? Oh but if that’s a possibility, I haven’t even thought of that and the other thing and the other thing and so on.”

It’s a false sense of urgency, of feeling like you’re figuring something out. When really you’re just searching for a thread of certainty to cling onto.

Active mind is observing, sitting in the uncertainty and relishing the openness, not needing an answer, content to search.

I can feel the difference when I’m in one mode or the other.

It’s my scared mind that runs around, asking hurriedly between gasps, “Oh how will you make something of your pain? There must be a way. Let’s find it now. Okay, now … oh wait, but what about …”

And then, I feel all mixed up and turned around.

It’s my active mind that looks at the sky and wonders, “Hmm. What do I do with my story? What does it mean to be human? To be wild? To be alive?”

It’s not about finding answers. It’s a meditation. It’s a practice of delving into what matters to me, diving into the deep end, and just letting myself hang out there for a while.

It’s floating.

Digging has its place. Brick-laying has its place too. And so does floating.

With layers,

Nicole Sylvia Javorsky


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