Sometimes out of tragedy and despair comes new growth that wouldn't have otherwise sprouted, simply because the seedbed was never prepared to nurture such new life. This is a thought that is really keeping me going lately, you know, the whole 'silver lining' angle. But it's more than that, I think. Besides just instilling hope and faith, it's helping real change take root, and that, my friends, has been a long time coming.
Before an evening drive and walk, my friend Kristin presented me with a book I've been eyeing for a couple of years now, but likely didn't have the courage to approach, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's a course on how to discover and recover your creative self, heal that creative child inside of you and follow the path to higher creativity. It's not meant only for those who want to 'be' artists; it's for anyone who has ever dreamt of learning to play the guitar, knit, or cook. Anyone at all who wants to sprout their creative seed, in whatever medium it might be.
It's twelve weeks long, and takes about an hour a day to read the required chapter for each week, and to do the corresponding exercises. I'm on Day Two, and I have an embarrassing confession: my right arm and hand are sore. From writing with a pen. Each morning you fill three 8.5 x 11 pages with whatever words creep on there. It's a brain dump, really. But really, when was the last time any of us wrote that much by hand?
Mechanics of the exercises aside, my Morning Pages, as they're called, have so far been therapeutic. Emotional, sad, frustrated. Lots of stuff comes up, stuff you really don't expect, or that you thought you had dealt with. A lot lives in the far reaches of our cavernous brains, I'm finding out. Childhood memories, happy or sad. Past mistakes, skeletons in the closet. Things we can't so easily forget. That's the nature of the beast, but to nurture and heal, to steal a quote, "...you gotta get rid of the shit that weighs you down." I couldn't agree more, and writing it down helps us do this.
Besides the Morning Pages, you also get to take yourself out on an Artist's Date. Nothing fancy or pretentious, just a time for you to spend with yourself to be creative an do something you enjoy. The point is to make time for you, with we seldom do. It can be going to a thrift store, a museum, even a walk in the woods. Anything you enjoy doing that is FUN.
Each week, there are other exercises that are designed to draw out the creativity-blocking demons once and for all, including affirmations and digging deep inside the memory bank for clues to why you doubt yourself in creativity, and in life really.
I'll try to update my progress here, it's a way for keeping myself accountable and to stick with it. I'm also doing it with Kristen, who did it several years ago and wants to revisit the process. That will help, having a partner to keep me motivated.
It's a big commitment, but one I'm willing to make.