Unfolding the Paper Airplane

Denise Braun


In many regards, my artwork has become my therapy. As a therapist myself (and an artist) I giggle with amusement to think that the countless canvases and the tubes of acrylic have stepped in when no other human could have taken on the role as my confidant. If we are at all lucky in this life we find that certain process that guides our mind into somewhere peaceful & purposeful. This artistic unfolding has become something of a ritual for me and I want to share a piece of it today…

Some time ago I was working in my studio. Dingy and dirty…I hadn't cleaned it out for over a month. Finding the simplest of supplies was becoming a burden and it was time for me to find the broom (which was hidden behind quite literally 5 huge canvases). I dug out what I needed to tidy up. And it began. Paper pieces, glue globs, old tape & paper towels found their way into my trash can. Progress was made. Peace of mind was found. The ritual of organizing was satiating. One last section of the studio needed attending to and I made my way to the quiet corner where a stack of colorful paper had been sitting beyond a year. Piece by piece, I tossed what was demolished and saved the salvagable. And to my delight and curiosity I found a small paper airplane. Covered in cobwebs…it looked as though it had whetered it's own storm. Painted edges…or was that crayon? Slowly I unfolded the flying time-capsule and there in a small child's script was my middle daughter's name. And a small tree. I have no idea how this plane actually landed there in the dusty corner of my very dirty studio. But it had. And as I sat down in the middle of the concrete floor I thought about time gone by…and the gift I'd just found among the rubble.

The truth is, that if I'd been more aware of my surroundings I would have found more than just this small gift. As life bestows upon us it's wonder & magic of time and place. It's up to us to unfold the paper airplane to reveal what we are to know. This small artistic reminder took me to a time of motherhood when my world was much simpler, and my children were much smaller. I was so grateful for this chunk of time sitting in my hand. And I saw the beauty of the process it took for me to find this treasure. There was a part of my heart that grew just a bit larger that day. And the memory made me smile and get all teary eyed at the same time.

This reminds me of a saying by Ramakrishna. "There are pearls in the deep sea, but one must hazard all to find them. If diving once does not bring you pearls, you need not conclude that the sea is without them. Dive again. And again."

When we are brave enough to open not only our eyes, but our hearts…we find the gifts of life just within our reach. We go diving. After I found the paper airplane I ran inside to show my middle. She laughed and had no memory of it's time of creation. It didn't matter. I hugged her and we made a new paper airplane out of neon green paper. And thus my own 'therapy' morphed again….into spending time with my child. Finding something meaningful amongst the chaos. And remembering to say thank you for the gifts in my life. Thank you.