I Can’t Draw and Other Stories #2
I called this zine I Can’t Draw and Other Stories because I knew that I wanted to write about stories as obstacles and ideas on how to move them out of the way. There was a time when I believed that I couldn’t draw and the truth is, I can’t. Or, not in the way that I was shown “drawing” by the world i.e. romantic life drawing; or sketching perfect facsimiles of reality from the minds-eye; or intentional inked lines of familiar things (with no mistakes). Despite a long and painful rendezvous with a book called The Natural Way to Draw, I was left with a collection of objectively terrible sketches. I can’t draw became the story and it was a sad one for me to hold.
I always wanted to somehow translate the rich terrain of my imagination onto paper. I envied people who could do it. Eventually I was told by someone I trusted that “everyone could draw” and was given an assignment to draw something and show them. I was mortified - like truly panic-stricken and hot with shame - but I did it, and it was accepted and encouraged so I kept going. I didn’t ever get “good” at drawing things I saw. But what I did find, was a whole host of characters from my imagination that could look any way they wanted. There were no rules in this fantasy world, I could just make images of whatever wanted to come forward. I couldn’t draw perfectly proportioned hands so mine were awkward, kind of deformed, and often claw-like. I liked them this way because they were mine – this is how my hand draws a hand.
I also started looking at a LOT of drawings and illustrations and not only did I find people who were drawing like me, but also as many different styles of drawing as there are artists. I realized I just needed to lean in and learn what made my drawings my own. I practiced and showed other people what I was making.
I stopped thinking my way through it and allowed it to be a more intuitive process. I didn’t refer to it that way at the time though, because I didn’t understand it yet.
Here’s the thing about intuition: it never shows up quite how I want it to. I never have the experience of a clear and precise message coming from intuition. It takes deciphering, and the deciphering requires a receptivity that runs counter to the
jibber jabber of my active mind. In fact, my mind is not even where it takes up esidency, that’s just the distraction. As Lindsay Mack says, our intuition is a much quieter, embodied knowing and it takes time to create the intimacy required to “hear” it. Furthermore, our intuition is not perpetually online, we’ve got to be patient sometimes. This is not one of my strong suits.
This was a big obstacle for me when I started reading tarot cards. Almost every workshop I did, or book I read said the first step was to just “be with the cards” and “tap into my intuition” to see where it guides me. Well, all I got was crickets. It became
apparent that I didn’t have access to intuition in the way it was being suggested. Any experience of it I’d had before was unsolicited, situational “gut feelings” that I found difficult totrust and only acknowledged through hindsight. When I tried this intro to tarot exercise, I could come up with 5 - 23 possible interpretations for each card. The symbolic imagery and figures offered some direction, but it often felt like what I was doing was less “tapping in” and more “stab in the dark”. It made me feel like tarot just wasn’t something I was good at - I didn’t have the magic to make the cards work. That became my story and it made me put them down for a long time. Just like I put down my pencil.
But something kept drawing me back - this was after all a tool invented to explore the single most interesting topic I’ve ever encountered: being human. Maybe I had an inner knowing that this was somehow meant for me, so I spent time thinking about
how I’d gotten better at things in the past, like drawing: I learned and found my own way in.
So, I worked on shifting my mindset from the expectation that my journey with tarot needed to look a certain way and instead made it my own. I studied the hell out of it. I did the thing they said not to do and memorized the card meanings. I gave bad readings to myself and others. I pretended I wasn’t confused by some card meanings and just accepted them at face value leading to guess what, confusion. I scared myself by thinking some cards were “bad” (I mean, the card is called Death and there are people flinging themselves out of fiery windows in The Tower). Pulling cards caused me anxiety but I started little by little to pay attention to how something other than my brain was kicking in to gear.
I noticed how trying to include intuition in the process was sparking something up inside me. It’s like it just needed that bit of energy flow to believe that I might hear it this time and it grew more confident, a little louder, a touch more brazen. The way my intuition served me best in this moment was in guiding me to know that I needed to keep searching. What was waiting to be unlocked would be if I could just choose the right door. I knew it was behind there somewhere.
My new favourite teacher, Sarah Faith Gottesdiener wrote in The Moon Book: Lunar Magic to Change Your Life: “Effective harvesting is also about taking the path of least resistance. Not trying to make those who won’t budge, bend. Imagine being in a long hotel hallway lined with eighty-two doors, and I tell you that behind just one of those doors is an amazing party that a loved one has planned in your honor…All you have to do is open the right door. Would you stop at the first door you see and then, when it won’t unlock, try to bang it open all night?
No way. You’d knock on every door until you found the one that was just for you. Life can be like that exercise. We have to find the door that will open easily for us, not force ones that will never swing ajar. This isn’t about giving up on a dream. It is actually about trying a variety of different ways to actualize your dream. Don’t let one not-so-great outcome determine the next phase of your life. Don’t force a situation that isn’t working after you’ve given it an honest and healthy effort. Go where you are
wanted. Go where the love is.”
For all of this to work, I also had to BELIEVE that the party in my honour existed! I needed to trust the Messenger that there was something behind the door and this wasn’t all some terrible prank or act of trickery. I needed to have faith that the Universe was rigged in my favour. What a concept to behold by someone who possessed a story that wanting things was dangerous and receiving them comes with consequence.
I kept searching with tarot and eventually found my way to Tarot for the Wild Soul and Lindsay Mack. Everything in me said yes. This was the room I was supposed to be in. My practice exploded. Everything changed and was somehow also the same - this new approach didn’t deny or dismiss any of the previous learning that I had done but reframed it through a new lens that felt like coming home. I levelled-up in one fell swoop. In order to “rewild” tarot based on the idea that if the cards are not for everyone, they’re not for anyone could only happen because I knew those other interpretations of the cards so well. I was familiar with the conversation that was unfolding. Many of the cards that had never gelled for me because of overly gendered
interpretations or misaligned conceptions of power, money, or relationships were cleansed of their bad-taste-in-the-mouth-ness. In this new approach, I also found my intuition.
Instead of knowing WHAT the hell I was doing, I knew WHY the hell I was doing it and this relationship to alignment activated my inner knowledge. Also, importantly, the practice of showing up for myself each day - pulling cards, being with what was there, journaling, listening - was a powerful homecoming. It became an anchor into my own experience, shadow, and integration. I began to understand how these archetypes of humanity told profound stories about this journey that casts every single one of us as a traveler, a seeker, a student, a teacher, a healer, and a miracle. What a sublime thing to encounter. What a sublime thing to offer another human in need of a guide.
Learning is an act of hope. It helps me move forward. Healing requires time travel and there are things in the past that must be revisited, you just don’t want to hang out there for too long. My brain gets pretty scared of me doing new things, it often puts a story in the way to try and keep me safe in smallness. Learning makes change and also mobilizes my brain for something generative rather than constrictive. Research is a way for my brain to be activated as an ally and occupied with what is truly for my own good.
These cards, these drawings, this writing, is all creating a future.