Posted in Live, Love

A Chisel In My Hands

It is only well with me when I have a chisel in my hands. (Michelangelo)

Although it has been more than two decades now since I first read this quotation and began using it widely, it still holds true today. At first impressed by its meaning or message as much as its source, it resonated deeply within me. It spoke my emerging truth. At first fledgling, but now full-forced, I am still realizing the wisdom, wonder and wellness it imparts.

This quotation, attributed to a fine master, gave me permission to do that which I longed to do. Create! Even further, it made it an imperative—something I must do to remain healthy and well.

As the creative and “sensitive” son of a gentle father who suffered immensely from paranoid schizophrenia (and at times inflicted his suffering on his vulnerable young family), I was terrified that I might wake up to discover one day that I, too, was not well. To extend Michelangelo’s sculpting metaphor, I was secretly worried–paranoid even–that I would become a “chip off the old block.”

While this adolescent fear has long since abated with the passage of almost five decades, what has remained is the habit of writing for hours each day. Although successful and fortunate enough to continue seeking my healthiest and happiest place in the external world, it is true that “it is only well with me” when I am creating and re-creating that world with every stroke of the wordsmith’s pen.

Even now, as I make the renewed pledge to post on this blog, it is only after numerous hours of “journal journeying” that I may do so. As has been my habit for more than two decades now, I write in longhand every day for as long as life and the demands of the day afford.

Cursive handwriting, by far the smoothest and fastest mode of self-expression for me, allows me to move the pen across the page and express the yearnings of heart, mind and soul that are my greatest joy and bliss.

Going deeply inward, while simultaneously expressing outward, my cursive scribbles are my calming and comforting meditation. Repetitively “mantra-like” in their affirmative and visualizing nature, they are simultaneously free-flowing as an expression of gratitude, prayer, and all-too-human rambling—evidence of my distraction as I take in the whirligigs of life all around me. While it is also true that my journal writing is my own germinating place and the source of seeds for many creative and educational projects, it’s also important to note (as I often joke), I’m just not fit to be around without it.

With heartfelt appreciation to Julia Cameron for the profoundly positive influence her life’s work has had on my life, my “’morning’ pages” link me to the most profound wisdom, wonder, and wellness I have ever known. Whether morning, noon, or night, it is only really, truly, and deeply well with me when I have a chisel in my hand.

With love,


Kalen Marquis is the therapist, educator and human bean who founded Kwil.Club with frizzy-fuzzy, green-nosed Kwil. He is a registered clinical counsellor in private practice in New Westminster, BC. He has more than two decades of experience as a teacher, teacher-librarian and school counsellor.