There’s a wolf within each of us, custodian of our creative selves. With unerring instinct, our wolf knows when we’re in touch with our dreams, and flowing our ideas. In the precise moment that we loose contact with our vision, become disconnected from our deep selves, well that’s when the howling begins. Softly at first. Then louder, if you don’t pay attention.
On restless nights when you toss and turn in the half light, surely you’ve heard the howling, the weeping, haven’t you? Often I’ve written it off as belonging to my neighbour, or to the occupants across the street. But I’ve known, I’ve known that I’m lying to myself. That the howling, the weeping emanated from my own breast.
Bernadette, a character in Richard Linklater’s quirky, slightly oddball movie, is an architect with a trail of stellar accomplishments in her youth. Now in her middle years, no longer practicing her art, she lives in a large ramshackle mansion, is married to a loving Microsoft executive, and has a brilliant daughter who loves her. Bernadette is anti-social, feels nothing in common with her neighbours, hates Seattle where she lives, is devoted solely to supporting her daughter. She has opted out of architecture and socialising, for a narrow life of mothering in the suburbs.
Disconnected from her inner wolf, Bernadette has muted his howls, banished him to the shadows. Though her wolf continues to reach out to her, Bernadette has ceased to listen. The years pass, as they do, until one day she disappears, and is flung into a series of events that haul her out of apathy, when she pounces on a new architectural project.
Bernadette’s creative shut down, we get to discover, happened after she had spent two years building a magnificent glass house that someone bought and immediately struck down. He wanted only the land, not the piece of her soul that the glass house represented.
The centrality of creative expression in a life, and the suffering and pain of its thwarting, is the story of Bernadette. In truth, creative expression has the same centrality for each of us. Just ask our inner wolves.