Monday, June 10, 2013

Personas at Play

“The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will.”--Czeslaw Milosz


None of us really is just one person, though these days, our culture does its best to flatten everything out, including the diversity of our personhood.

I suppose that many people think of themselves as just one person, and dismiss or suppress any evidence that there may be a host of characters hidden within, a fascinating collection of archetypes and personas.

Of course, it is convenient to appear as one person, and it may be reassuring, both to oneself and to others. But it is also rather dull in ways, don't you think?  All those  soul imprints and imaginative figures just sitting around like stuffed animals in a toy store, rather than having the chance to express themselves in the play of life.

I like to explore the archetypes and personas that pass through me or live in me. Poetry and memoir have been ways that I've walked into that territory. So has singing and performing. In each of these creative expressions, I find that various voices, personas and subpersonalities begin to emerge. Of course, they emerge in nighttime dreams, too.

Sometimes I like to play with them. Here, I'll share a recent jaunt with you. I got into it when I began to think about having some fun with the buttons in the Audacious Aging Kit I just developed. I went to visit photographer Helga Motley and she took a few pictures of them. There are others, too, but these will have to do for now.


Long ago, as you will recall, The Girl with the Pearl Earring was young and quite lovely. Wearing her signature earring and headdress, she was immortalized by the painter Vermeer.

Decades later, she wasn't as serious as she had been in her younger days.

She had exchanged the pearl earring for a coral earring and put on another headdress entirely.

She pinned some buttons on her headdress in order to communicate a few things that were now important to her. One said BOLD, another said, Yes, I am experienced and the third said Audacious Aging.

She didn't think like that when she was younger. In fact, she realized that she had become an entirely different person from the girl she was when Vermeer painted her.

This is my friend Lola, sometimes known as Lulu.
She usually wears clothes that are much more outrageous, but she was going for a basic black kind of look here.

She gets me into trouble at times, as she has a rather forthright way of expressing herself. This is an understatement.

Don't let that classical get-up fool you.  She is anything but.....

Baba Yaga, the magical hag, from Slavic folklore, is someone that I have been hanging out with for years.

Sometimes it's good to have a friend that is ancient, terrifying and quite powerful. She can teach you how to be that way, too, if she takes a liking to you.

I think that she is trying to smile here. She wants to look normal for the camera. She tries to adapt to current styles when she shows up in the modern world by wearing dreadlocks.

She usually lives deep in the forest of the ancient ones in a house that stands on chicken legs and twirls around and around, keeping an eye out on everything.

So as you may imagine, with that kind of house as a sign of everything else she is and does, she has quite a lifestyle.

This is not the way she usually looks, actually. It's almost as if she has had plastic surgery or something, though she is definitely not a being who thinks 60 is the new 30.

She is keeping her Mother of All Hags look under wraps. Probably for the best, at least for now.

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