"I am different because I allowed myself to learn"

Illustrations of bird silhouettes in sketchbook

About two years ago, I met Tamisha Tyler at a gathering of young women artists. It was there that I had the privilege of listening to her read some of her poetry. I don't think I need to explain what it's like to hear beautiful poetry read well. Read with heart, read in a way that reaches out and touches the listener. It's a rare thing in my experience, and when it happens you remember.

So when I started to think about women artists I wanted to include in this series, Tamisha was one of the first that came to mind. I'm honored to share one of her recent poems, and some illustrations that it inspired, here today.

Illustration of a pink and purple guinea fowl


I am different now. 
Mostly in ways I cannot explain. 
Not because circumstances have changed. 
No, I figure I was destined to come out on the other side of this. 
I am different because I allowed myself to learn. 
That's all we can really do anyway. 
Learn. Discover. Explore. 
Get it wrong and learn all over again. 
Even teaching is learning. 
We teach not what we know but what we've come to learn. 
Otherwise we only teach close mindedness. 
Outside, two women each lunch together. 
They laugh and cover their faces. 
I wonder why they are so ashamed of their happiness. 
When did we learn to treat our joy so delicately?
When did love become so polite? 
Hate surely isn't. 
I am different. 
Yes. I can see that now. 

I wanted to share just the poem first, because I love the power that art has to speak to us where we are as individuals. But now that you've read it, I also want to share Tamisha's thoughts behind it, and what it means to her. Because I think that learning a bit more of what an artist intends in a piece (and it's especially true in this case), adds even more depth to our understanding.

"I wrote it this year to try to put to words the deep depression I was emerging out of. Though I am in a different place, sometimes parts of that depression still lingers, but I am still learning. Still living. Still loving myself."

Pigeon and Spoonbill bird silhouettes in sketchbook

I'm not finished with this series of illustrations yet. There are more to come. A whole sketchbook full I think. Difference, old and new, then and now, here and there, it's all stirring around right now. That's one of my favorite things about art. It can stick with you. 

If you need some more words that will stick with you, check out Tamisha's blog here. You'll find beautiful art.

Grooming pigeon silhouettes in sketchbook

1 comment

  • Gwen Meharg

    I am different.

    Different is good.`



    Thank you.

    Ruth, I pushed beyond my wildest imaginations because I wanted more for you.
    Or maybe your innate desire for more is what pushed me.

    Probably Both/And


    than either/or.

    Thank you.

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