UCLA ARTS AND HEALING CONFERENCE

I’ve been to three conferences this year. Why do I go to all these conferences? Why is healing important? How do I find mental health in music, art and writing?

The Arts & Healing Conference is a good conference. We heard our voices together – peer advocates, case managers and Ph.D.s – who have all suffered from brain differences  and emotional or social trauma; we listened to our voices. We created designs from our collective unconscious; beautiful patterns of insight to keep for ourselves or pass along to somebody else. We drummed and we danced and we laughed and we loved each other.

Last year, DMH footed the bill. Why? Why is it important for people – unemployed, without transportation, without work histories, without credit and sometimes without homes and cellphones… why should we get to go to the LAX Hilton to share the space with MFAs and PHDs with MACs and Kale Lunches and I Phones? And why is it important, that this year, some of us get to volunteer to pay our way for workshops? We all have something to contribute, and it is all green, whether is to money or seedlings or the green bracelets of the the mental health alliance.

Art is society above the merely cognitive; it gathers itself from the masculine right and the feminine left, and from all the powerful spaces in and between them. Art is the chorale and the audience; it starts with the doodles and the dirty jokes, and ends in opera; it includes the actors and the gaffers and the people coughing in their upholstered seats. There are no homeless in the orchestra. There is no “White Only” sign. This musical is the lyric of poetry set to thunder. When we came, we were crying. And when we left, we were crying, wishing each other well.

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