Monday, November 1, 2010

Gary Gray Speaks To Southern Kings Arts Council

By Tom Rath
Writing is more than an art form, it's a way to exercise one’s creativity, guest speaker Gary Gray of Montague said at this month’s meeting of the Southern Kings Arts Council.
"For me, as a stroke survivor, it is both a form of escape, and a way to help me discover and develop what I call my new normal," Mr Gray said.
"The stories of my childhood that you read in Prince Edward Island Tales are not just my latest writings. They are my first writings, too. I joined the Montague Library Writers Group because I found writing was good therapy for me."
Always an active participant in community affairs, Mr Gray suffered a major stroke eight years ago while stopping for coffee. After a blurred three weeks of CAT scans and semi-consciousness, he awoke to the realization that his entire world had changed.
Mr Gray faced major challenges in learning once again how to walk, talk and dress under conditions of fatigue, depression and anxiety. Even sitting up to eat took effort. A left-handed man with a paralyzed left side has much to learn.
"It’s more than just regaining physical strength," Mr Gray said. "After all, much of what we do doesn’t happen in the hands, but in the brain itself. I had to battle memory loss and fuzzy thinking, and somehow teach my brain how to survive and succeed under these new conditions."
Part of his progress stemmed from involvement in a new writing group formed at the Montague Library.
"By putting words down on paper, I helped clear my thoughts and my thinking patterns. That, plus my involvement with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, gave me new accomplishments – skills, strengths and reassurance that while I’m not necessarily the old Gary Gray, I am the new Gary Gray. I am surviving and succeeding in my new normal."
The Southern Kings Arts Council exists to support the arts community, and to enhance public awareness and appreciation of the arts in this region of Prince Edward Island. Guest speaker meetings are held in the boardroom of Active Communities, Main Street, Montague, at 7:30pm on the third Tuesday of most months, and are open to the public. Admission is free