Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trust the process

Several hours after I created and posted yesterday's video, I looked out my living room window and saw this intrepid fellow surfing the waves in the cold and wet.  He seems a fitting symbol for today's message, which is about a book I began reading yesterday, entitled Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go.

I'm only two chapters in, but already the book has given me two gifts: 1) It's important -- and even essential -- to repeat yourself, and 2) "Creativity cannot flourish and reach its deepest potential without the participation of its demons as well as its angels."

One of my earliest memories dates back to when I was in second grade.  I'd been repeatedly drawing pictures of a house in a yard, with a tree, and a pond, and a bird in the tree.  And my mother (who was a watercolor artist) said to me, "Why do you keep drawing the same thing all the time?  Can't you paint something different?"

To be honest, I don't remember drawing or painting much of anything after that -- but what I do know is that, like many grownups in my generation, I grew up believing I couldn't draw.  I've taken numerous drawing and art classes over the years, but they've mostly confirmed that impression... Which is why photography has been such a gift, because with it I can create art without having to draw -- plus, with photography, it's TOTALLY acceptable to shoot the same thing over and over until you get it right.  This image, for example, is one of five different shots I took.

But I do still have this deep-seated reluctance to repeat myself.  And if you mix that with a need for perfection, well -- you've got a powerful cast of demons to inhibit your creativity -- demons I've definitely been struggling with lately.  It's incredibly helpful to name them, but even more helpful to be reminded that the demons are just as vital to the creative process as the angels which flutter around when things are "working."  Because understanding this not only gives me permission to struggle with my demons, but reminds me that ultimately that struggle will deepen my work.

But what if we take this out of the context of art?  Isn't the spiritual path ultimately, like creativity, a matter of opening the channels between ourselves and the Divine, to allow what is being born in us to flow through?  So then repeat actions -- reading, praying, meditating, returning to center, breathing -- all become an aspect of our spiritual discipline, and the demons we struggle with along the way as we attempt to open are a vital part of the process.

It is, of course, a delicate balance, and one that takes a great deal of practice to perfect -- not unlike what it must take for this windsurfer to find the perfect balance with wind, wave, sail and board.  When will we learn it's okay to fall down once in a while?

... Or should I say, when will I learn?

PS: A friend just posted this 7 minute TED talk on Facebook.  I think it perfectly captures the value of repetition as a discipline -- plus it has two thoughts that I TOTALLY agree with: "Words are really flimsy messengers for the fullness of experience"; and something about the way time expands and re-forms itself around a daily practice like singing, meditation, or blogging...  just wonderful.  Thank you, Margaret!

1 comment:

Kimberly Mason said...

Yes, yes, yes! I really needed this reminder today. Thank you!