Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Seven, Post One

This week is about “Recovering a Sense of Connection” and it has various layers of meaning (as does every chapter).

Julia talks about connecting to the Creator, to ourselves, and to others. And each connection requires a slightly different skill set.

Today, I want to highlight what she says about connecting to God/Creator, and, connecting to others.

First, God.

According to Julia, the key to connecting to our Creator, and therefore, creativity, is simply to listen. We are being spoken to, guided and directed constantly. But, usually, we’re too busy and keep our environment too loud, to hear anything. In a very real way, we avoid listening. (Think of how much silence you had today. 30 minutes? 10 minutes? 5 minutes?)

And if we listen, we realize that as artists we shouldn’t be trying to “think something up” but “get something down.” We are really the conduit for creativity, not the source. And if we really understand this, it’s a freeing and less stressful way to create!

Here’s an analogy that Julia uses that I love:

“Art is the act of tuning in and dropping down the well. It is as though all the stories, painting, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas that we can tap down into. As artists, we drop down the well into the stream. We hear what’s down there and we act on it—more like taking dictation than anything fancy having to do with art” (p. 118).

Think about this for a moment. It’s a powerful idea that all we have to do is take the time to listen, then drop our buckets down into the creative stream, bring up what we gather, and share it with the world. (Nothing says it has to be a perfect offering, just an offering. But, perfection is the topic for tomorrow.)

However, there is something that can stand in the way with the gathering and sharing, and that leads to the second type of connection I wanted to talk about: connecting with others.

The one thing that Julia discusses this week that can get in the way of connecting with others is jealousy.

Are you jealous of anyone? Come on, be honest. Because identifying where you are jealous is the key to your freedom!

“Jealousy is a map” (p. 123). It lets us know what we really want. For example, if I’m jealous of my sister because she has really great hair, what does that mean? It means I want great hair! See what I mean? Jealousy is a guide to show you your heart’s desire. And this can be a frightening, yet freeing thing if you can identify it and then let it go.

“Jealousy is always a mask for fear: fear that we aren’t able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours even if we are too frightened to reach for it” (p. 124). If I’m jealous of a friend because she has written a novel, this tells me what I really want (i.e. write a novel) and it shows me what I’ve been afraid to do (i.e. write a novel).

Julia continues with this powerful understanding, “At its root, jealousy is a stingy emotion. It doesn’t allow for the abundance and multiplicity of the universe. Jealousy tells us there is room for only one—one poet, one painter, one whatever you dream of being” (p. 124, emphasis added).

Wow, right?

On a personal note, this is a very timely chapter for me.

I’ve been dealing with jealousy as I have gotten farther and farther behind on my NaNoWriMo novel, and as I’ve been visiting other artists who are participating in the Art Every Day challenge and are creating art that is breathtakingly beautiful.

But, I have to remind myself that like on NaNo, where there is no limit to how many people can cross the 50,000 word finish line, and on AEDM , where there is no rule that what I paint has to be better than everyone else’s, the same can be said for every creative endeavor.

There really are no winners and losers. There are only those who listen and create, or those who watch and criticize.

There can be thousands of poets, thousands of painters, thousands of novelists, thousands of photographers, thousands of actors, thousands of playwrights, thousands and thousands and thousands of creative souls.

And you are one of them!

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