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What I learned from Salvador Dali about time and trauma

I recently went on a wonderful outing with my daughter to the Salvador Dali exhibition in Hertzliya. I love taking time off to go to museums. Unfortunately I don’t do it as often as I would like to. During our day out, which was her gift to me to celebrate my upcoming 50th birthday, I realized how important it is to make time to do things that bring us joy, especially with the people who bring us joy. When we are enjoying our lives, a chemical reaction takes place in our body which can help alleviate whatever stresses we are experiencing. Here is what I learned about time and trauma, from what appears to be the crazy mind of Salvador Dali:

time

Salvador Dali was fascinated by the idea of ‘time’ and he often painted and sculpted ‘time’ through the image of time melting watches. Dali was inspired to depict time flowing when he was at a restaurant and saw melted Camembert cheese flowing out once it was cut open. Dali takes a watch made of hard unbending materials like metal and glass and he recreates it to represent time as something soft and flowing something much more sympathetic to the needs of humanity than the rigidity of the traditional motions of time governing our lives by the clock. The concept of time, our time, and how we use it is precious. It is also up to us what we do with it.

There was a time I used to say, “I don’t have time to improve my Hebrew.” Then I heard a lecture which explained that the statement, “I don’t have time to ….” really means, “It’s not a priority for me.” This was a big wake up call for me. Since then, I have joined an intensive ulpan program, and having made Hebrew a priority, I am enjoying my advancement with the language. I feel good about this. It was all about stopping to make excuses for something which was difficult for me, and taking responsibility for what I really want to see improve in my life.

Maybe this blog, and Dali will inspire you to take responsibility and make time to do something you have been putting off saying, “I don’t have time for…”

Dali

Another of Dali’s obsessions were depicting ‘drawers’ opening and closing out of people. I found this idea fascinating and a little weird until I learned what Dali’s rich imagination was intending to show us. According to Freudian theory, drawers signify the deepest enigmas of our psyche, that which we bury away deep inside ourselves. When Dali depicts open drawers, he is saying that we should not fear them but expose them and they will lose their power over us. I found this so insightful. How often do we open our ‘drawers’ and address those things we have shelved away hoping to never look at them again. It is exactly that which we cannot deal with, that begs to be dealt with.

In his recent movie (2021), The Wisdom of Trauma, Dr. Gabor Maté says, “Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside of you, as a result of what happened to you.” When we process what has happened to us, especially on a meaning and a somatic level, we can release trauma and begin to heal. The key is managing trauma and turning it into something beneficial in our lives. Time to start cleaning our drawers…

If you are struggling with any trauma, panic, anxiety, grief or just need some support to find meaning in your life or through a difficult time, please be in touch to speak about how I can support you. Zoom and in person sessions available. CLICK HERE to contact me.

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