What have I learned from Experience?

"Emma's Birthday" original drawing

“Emma’s Birthday” original drawing

Most of us have asked this question, especially after a grueling episode of bad behavior or stupid choices. We hope to avoid future problems by learning from our mistakes, but that doesn’t necessarily happen.

Consider that abused women have a tendency to marry other abusive men repeating their mistake over and over again. They become used to the role of doormat. It feels familiar. Many have been previously abused by their fathers. Their self-esteem is so low that they can’t seem to rise above it. Their self view is cloudy and confused. They rarely go against their abusers. Most of the time, their hatred goes inward and perpetuates their already low self image.

Like the revolving doors used in movies and comedy sketches, the insecure and unloved keep going through the same motions hoping for a new outcome. People coming out of prison after having served their time frequently end up going back. They relapse into old habits and routines, commit new crimes, and slip into the familiar. The frequency of their return to prison is measured and labeled as the rate of recidivism. Those revolving prison doors become a trap forever, unless someone or something causes permanent personality modification.

The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) wrote a special kind of poem called a villanelle about life and death: “Do not go gentle into that good night.” It is considered to be one of his finest works. His point was that we should live our lives fully and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” . . . and to rage against the darkness of death.

Dylan wrote this for his dying father. Perhaps he wanted him to rage and fight against death rather than give into it. Thomas himself died an untimely death at the age of 39. Just prior to his death, Dylan met the Swansea-born painter and print-maker Ceri Richards.

According to one source: “They met in the Boathouse in Laugharne in October 1953 and they had an instant rapport and connection;” reveals the gallery owner. “He was shocked when Dylan died and later produced a whole series of drawings based on his poetry.”

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

“They probably became Ceri Richards’ most famous set of prints,” says Tinney. “It was regarded as one of the great works of printmaking in post-war Britain.”

The exhibition, Ceri Richards – The Dylan Thomas Works, celebrates two of Wales’ greatest cultural icons of the last century. Thomas was, of course, one of Wales’ most famous literary figures and Richards is acknowledged as Wales’ most important artist of the mid-20th century.

Blossom by Cheri Richards

Blossom by Cheri Richards

“It’s very, very rare to get a complete set of lithographs of the Dylan Thomas Suite. I’ve been showing Ceri Richards’ work for 22 years and only twice I’ve had the complete set of prints,” says the curator.

Brokenb Rose

Broken Rose

Dylan’s poem has always been a favorite of mine. I see it somewhat differently than some. I think we should rage at the hours we waste in berating ourselves and hating ourselves for things that are out of our control.

I think we should fight for the right to think and live in a way that fulfills our destiny. We should rage against crime, and sin, and evil. We should celebrate life and use our god given talents to make the world a better place. We should rage at anything that would debase this precious gift of life that we’ve been given.

Dylan’s poem was recited by the character Thornton Melon, played by Rodney Dangerfield, in the 1986 film Back to School where his English professor has him recite the poem to inspire him to complete an exam.

According to Dangerfield….We must rage – not against death, but against defeat; against the wickedness and evil of the world that seeks to make us unworthy of our destiny. People told the character Thornton Melon that he was too old for school. That he was too stupid and couldn’t possibly rise to the level of a degree. But he did it in spite of them.

Whitney Houston’s song “I found the greatest love of all inside of me” got me through some bad, bad times.  It is especially meaningful to women who have been abused. When I came to believe I had worth, I felt like I’d been freed from a dark, dark prison; a prison of self-defeat and abuse. I’d repeat these words over and over: “No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity!”

Christians believe we are born with the light and love of Christ inside of us. This spark of divinity is there if we but feel its immensity and allow it to breathe and grow. Yes, we should rage against the darkness of a world that seeks to put that fire out!

LINK TO “Greatest Love of All” Whitney Houston


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