Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Creativity is the Divine Order of the Universe"

I read this quote some years ago in a seminal work many creatives and aspiring creatives have come across: Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way." A dear friend gifted me with this life changing book, which I credit for the years I have now spent as an artist and holistic health-care practitioner. For those not familiar, the full title is "The Artist's Way: The Spiritual Path Towards Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self."

The reader commits to 12 weeks of morning pages, artist's dates and signs a contract that reads: "I,________________, commit myself to the regular use of the basic tools. For the duration of this course, I will write Morning Pages daily and will take an Artist's Date once a week. Additionally, I commit myself to excellent self-care, adequate sleep, good food, and gentle companionship." Morning pages being a half hour to 45 minutes each morning that you write whatever it is that comes to mind upon waking, part meditation, part brain-drain, clearing the form for the day ahead, but doing it each day and watching what emerges. Artist's dates a wonderfully magical time, spent by oneself, in creative transfusion playtime and sometimes pure frivolity: a time to be like a child.

Quite a contract. A nurturing one indeed. I just signed it again. Over the years I have gifted this book, that delves into the deepest parts of our hearts and psyches, exploring our blocks, freeing and identifying deep creative yearnings, and giving voice to that inner child artist within all of us, to many friends and clients. I've led a few groups through the book, guiding their journey and providing gentle and ongoing support. And as someone who considers herself a mad scientist of self-discovery, I commit to regularly embarking on similar such journeys. I have done Ms. Cameron's second book "Walking in this World," as well as "The Vein of Gold," and other similar books by wonderful authors.

Once again, I found myself encountered with a dear soul, like we all do from time to time, wondering what to do with their deep passion in an economy and time that is not exactly nurturing dreamers and artists. So I bought this friend a copy of good old "Artist's Way," and while online, Amazon, in its precient way suggested "Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance" the third book in the trilogy. How had I missed this one? Had this come just in time for me as well?

After seeing a stirring production of "Waiting for Godot" recently, I shared drinks and a beautiful night with a bunch of artist friends. Somehow the topic turned to our shared "apologies" for being artists, that we had had to find ways to justify being creative beings, that somehow that was outside the realm of "productive memebers of society." Each of us recounted our anecdotes of times we felt our work couldn't hold a candle to more serious needed professions like science and medicine. And although we knew in our hearts this wasn't true, that OF COURSE the arts were intrinsic and vital to both personal, economic and societal well-being; that American culture, despite its best intentions, make artists feel vestigial, a luxury- something for "when times are good,"

Thusly, I decided, for solidarity with my searching friend, but also to replenish the well and optimism that can run a bit dry from time to time, to embark on a journey to stoke the embers of the creative individuality that resides in us all. Add to the mix of artist's dates and morning pages, weekly walks, solitary ones, to stoke the imagination, release, take in what's around, to listen, observe, go on "walk-about,"- all that a good walk can provide.

I'll be sharing from my journey, as I renew a sacred commitment to all that is creative, and discovering new insights. Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, know that one resides within you, and see about carving some time with him or her in the weeks to come. Feel free to pick up a copy of any of the books and join in. :-)