At 65, Edwin is cultivating a new part of himself.
Born and raised in Portland, Edwin moved to Seattle in 1990. His early dream was to see more of the world and move to San Francisco, but a broken leg kept him in the Puget Sound. Seattle became his home. Over the years, Edwin experienced harder challenges than a broken leg: his struggles with substance abuse, which he attributes to a lack of faith, resulted in instability. Since getting back on track, he has still been in communities where people are struggling with similar issues, but has learned to keep clean and help lift others up in their recovery process.
Edwin first learned about Path with Art last year through a friend who heard him singing in his apartment with Seattle Housing Authority. They encouraged him to join the Path with Art Singers. The inspiration that comes from being in a room full of people, all making something beautiful together, is what keeps him coming back.
“When you first start, you might be shy and nervous, you don’t know how people are going to respond. But as you go along, you see that the people are welcoming, there is appreciation, and interest in who you are as a person from the people and the community. And you start coming forward.”
After joining the choir, Edwin was inspired to try another type of creative expression and signed up for an eight-week class – poetry with Rachel Kessler at Hugo House. He learned about writing, and forms of creative expression that were new to him: rhyme, poetic structure, literature, and more. He attended every class, overcoming his shyness and sharing his poetry with his peers.
“There has been a cultivation of a new part of myself. I’ve really grown. I’m still learning and improving. You get to a point where you might think you’re done, but you’re not. You keep learning, trying to improve yourself, and grow on this journey.”
Edwin had no experience in the arts prior to joining Path with Art. He told one of his teaching artists that he missed his liberal arts education earlier in life – but is getting it now at age 65. He performed at Spring Voices Performing Arts Showcase at the Seattle Art Museum in March, Northwest Folklife in May, and recently sang for Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal when she visited Path with Art. Edwin was shy at first with solos, but in the last few choir rehearsals, he has sung out when called on in choir rehearsal.
“You feel appreciated when people are there to see you, they want to hear you sing, and that makes you want to do your best.”
Individual paths of recovery are bumpy with challenges, but creative expression and compassion, communities of support, and confidence in yourself, help to stay on track. Edwin finds this at Path with Art.