SARK Interview : Page 3 of 4
Succulent Bestselling Author & Artist SARK
SARK: The benefit of being a creative person is that you can use your creativity to look at it differently. That's why it's good we're having this talk. I think we all have a challenge in being our own dearest friend, because it's something that isn't taught, and it's also something that isn't supported. We're literally taught to look outside of ourselves for what we think we need. If we're at home and we think we're lonely, we're taught to go get another person to satisfy that.
M: Or a possession, or
SARK: Right. None of my friends are home, what do I do now? The practice of self-friendship becomes so exquisitely important when we can turn to ourselves in any circumstance and know that we're standing so wonderfully, sturdily there, that we really can turn towards ourselves. I mean, it's easy to be your own best friend when things are going well.
M: Much easier. Because you're feeling good about that person you're friends with.
SARK: Exactly! And the challenge comes because we don't always like ourselves; we don't always like other people either, but it becomes more piercing when we don't like ourselves. How can we hold all of it? Because that's really what being a friend is. When we can turn towards ourselves and see our perfectionism or our control issues or our intolerance, or whatever it may be that's painful, how can we hold that with friendship?
That doesn't mean we have to like it. What would we do if we heard a friend being judgmental, or rude, or careless? We usually try and we might just try and get away from them, or call them on it. "I've never seen you act this way, what's going on?" They say, "I've had the worst day, you won't believe it." And then we listen to our friend tell about this terrible day. And we forget to apply it to ourselves, that process. So when we're at home alone and floundering, we so often have a tendency to self-abandon. And as we know, we all know the ways to fill up and distract, but we wouldn't do that to a friend. We wouldn't run away, we would stay there.
M: Right. It makes a lot of sense, and as you say, it's not taught. One of the main messages I received as a child was, "Don't be selfish!", "You're so selfish!" Selfish was the worst thing you could be.
SARK: I know, and actually it's really one of the best things you can be, if it's done consciously.
M: And in measure.
SARK: In some measure. But I think that it also is all about consciousness. Consciousness selfishness is very different from selfishness. Take the subject of self-love. People think of self-love as narcissism. But what they're forgetting is that if we can't really love ourselves, we can't love another. But it goes further. If we're not able to be our own dearest friend; we're not able to be anyone's friend.
M: I think that's why so many relationships run into trouble. You get into a difficult situation, and you don't know how to care for yourself, or how to handle it, and it just explodes. We don't have the tools. And that's one thing I love about your work, you're all about giving us more tools for the toolbox.
SARK: I love the tools and resources. I get so inspired by people doing that great work, we're practicing and asking the questions, we're exploring. Self-help. I think those two words are so over-used. They need to be put down now.
M: Euthanized? Mercy killing for tired phrases?
SARK: Personal growth, personal development, self-exploration. I put these into my book because people pick up and run with them, and then come back with these wonderful stories and adventures of all the great things they're doing. It's my great joy and blessing. I feel so honored to be the connector. That's what I live for. That's my favorite thing to do. I'm a natural connector; it's like breathing to me. As I heal through writing, I help others to heal, and they in turn heal me, and it's just a fabulous circle.
M: You talk a lot about being your own fabulous best friend. what's the secret to creating healthy boundaries so that you can work on a current project without alienating those you love? Many creative people find this is a real challenge. Can you help? What works for you?
SARK: If everyone is their own best friend, it solves everything that you just asked. If you're in a relationship with a person who is his own dearest friend; it won't be an issue. If we think time is a scarce commodity, and one person is practicing self friendship and one isn't, the one who isn't is going to seek friendship from their partner. It turns into a detriment; "you're not available to me." In a past relationship, we were able to navigate through that because of our mutual creativity. Relationships can do well if these things are being discussed and communicated, and conscious there can always be misunderstandings. But if people are practicing self-friendship they won't be looking outside themselves for sustenance, but will look inward to sustain themselves. Of course, it doesn't always work that way.
M: Your books have been an incredible source of healing and inspiration for millions of readers worldwide. Much research is currently being done in new healing modalities that involve creative writing, music, and visual art as powerful tools for healing physical, spiritual, and emotional pain, trauma, disease, and imbalance. Can you discuss the spiritually enlightening and healing aspects of creativity? How has your work worked as a healing force in your own life?
SARK: I honestly feel that I have no choice. I can't imagine what the point would be if I weren't telling my truth. That's how I live, so therefore that's how I write. And if I can't, I can tell you I'm looking for why.
Creativity has absolutely saved my life. I started with stories about mice, families of mice in little shoe box houses. Building castles for toads at camp. I've always talked to creatures of all kinds; they were my family of friends as a child. The family I was born into happened to include an older brother who was my best friend until I was six years old. He was being molested by a next door neighbor, and then he in turn started molesting me. It was physical and sexual abuse, and it went on for 7 years. I didn't experience him as a friend and retreated into my imagination to get away from where I was living. I lived inside my books and my imagination they saved me during those years. It was terrible for me, for my family, for my brother. Many years later, I can say I have completely forgiven him and I'm in the process of forgiving the man who molested him. And I'm so grateful to say that my creative self, even though it did get diverted, it was not crushed.
M: It seems to me that many people have this experience, that's one of the most fabulous things about it. [Creativity] is a very effective road to escape current situations, especially for children, if there's no other way to deal with it aside from just shutting down. This is a common experience. I have been doing these interviews for over a year, and have seen many cases of different types of dysfunction or disease in a family situation, that later turned into something so beautiful, something that was so much more than where it began. Books and paintings, all these different things that come out of our need to escape, to find a safe place to hide, or some way to get away from what's going on.
SARK: I always remind people that I don't recommend this route, but the abuse in my life absolutely made me the artist and writer that I am I don't regret it. I used to think, "Why did this happen to me?" I feel that it was absolutely perfect. I'm so grateful for this experience. It's controversial to talk about. You're supposed to say it was terrible; everyone involved was terrible, I'm just lucky I survived. And for years, that's how I identified as a survivor. But I think it goes beyond that, I now honestly feel I went far beyond just surviving. I realize not everybody feels this way or has this experience, it just happens to be my experience.