Finding Your Soul Song

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I’ve always thought creativity to be a sort of spark of divinity lying within each of us. Granted, it’s more easily seen in some than in others.

I think we all have it to a degree, but it may take a while to show itself. Experience has shown me that creative fire in one person may ignite the flame in others.

This very thing happened to me. My father, Lester Potts, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in about 2002, and died in 2007.

A rural Alabama saw miller, Dad had never produced any visual art until after his diagnosis, when he participated in an expressive arts therapy program at a local dementia day care center.

His creativity was simply awe-inspiring, and since his death, we have shared his art and story far and wide.

A neurologist and Lester’s only child, I struggled deeply during his decline. At times I became overwhelmed at how little I seemed to be able to do for him and my mother, his primary care giver.

This was a source of great inner turmoil for me, and I found it very hard to give myself effective respite, reprieve from the stress of it all.

Then, from the very one afflicted with this mind-wasting disease came my therapy. Dad’s amazing art in its simple, yet poignant self-expression, lit a fire in me to explore my own creative side.

I like to say that Daniel becoming a poet is almost as hard to believe as Lester becoming an artist! But that’s just what happened.

As I viewed the rich and artistic life story revealed in Dad’s watercolors, I became inspired to draw into my own heart well and let my story out.

Once tapped, it literally gushed, and I wrote 30 poems in 30 days during January of 2006.

We paired the poetry with Dad’s watercolors in a book called The Broken Jar, and gave the printing rights as a fundraiser for the daycare center where Dad had received his therapy.

I still write poetry, and it has continued to deeply enrich my spirit. Through writing, I truly have been able to find my soul song and sing it to the world.

I encourage you to open yourself to all your creative possibilities, even if you don’t see yourself as talented in this way. Who knows? You might be as amazed by what you find inside as old Lester and I were!

Remember

Remember who you are, my child; who you were born to be.
Let love be law in mind and heart, let life be charity.

If bandaged, begging hands assail your palisades of calm,
let labor bring tranquility, let healing be its balm.

When death, itself, so stealthily advances through your days,
let quiet faith be your resolve, let living be your praise.

Then when my spirit and my flesh unknit, and I am gone,
within your heart the finest part of me continues on.

- Daniel C. Potts, MD, from his poetry anthology, Soulfire

Dr. Potts’ other poetry books, At End of Day and The Turning Time, are available online.

 

Image credit: WeatheredWays on Etsy

About the Author

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Daniel C. Potts, MD is a noted neurologist, author, educator, and champion of those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. He was chosen by the American Academy of Neurology as the 2008 Donald M. Palatucci Advocate of the Year, serves as an AAN national media spokesperson for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and is a faculty member at both medical schools in his home state of Alabama. Inspired by his father’s transformation from saw miller to watercolor artist in the throes of Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Potts formed Cognitive Dynamics, a foundation dedicated to quality of life improvement through the arts. With his wife, Ellen W. Potts, he authored A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer's Care Giver.

Read more from Dr. Daniel C. Potts

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