Here it is, one of those days with no ideas whatsoever.
Fifteen minutes and a page to fill, where should I start?
This morning my BeTheChange card says “being creative with everything in my life“.
In the text that comes with the card, Vanessa says that “we are all in this thing called creativity all the time“.
So, it must be here and now.
My idea, the starting point must be here in this room, right now.
I just need to open my eyes wide shut and let my reality speaks to me.
Wait a minute, someone said something yesterday during a workshop.
I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like “we are always immersed in abundance, we just don’t notice it“.
Isn’t it the same for creativity? We are always surrounded by ideas and inspirations, we just don’t notice them.
Yet, noticing is a tricky thing, because most often than not, ideas have this tendency to appear at the periphery of my vision, like the sneaky movement of my lissome cat.
Today, I’ll pay attention to the movements at the boundaries of my perception.
My brain is quite good at understanding things. In particular myself and my own behaviours. My mind can dissect the things I’ve said or done, find triggers and patterns, discover what I should change and how I can do things differently. It can also tell me compelling and reasonable stories.
My mind can do all of this. In hindsight.
However, when it really counts, my emotions and my instinct are way faster and louder than my mind.
Do you know that feeling? When you know what would be the right thing to say or do, but you talk and act differently?
To know or understand something in one thing. To live it or be it, is a whole different story.
What I’ve understood is that it’s all about practice. Using the mind to design and plan the exercises I need to become who I want to be.
And then going for it.
Day after day.
Until I’ll get to the point when my thoughts, emotions and instincts are in sync.
It takes time and a lot of failures.
But little by little, I’m getting closer.
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”Mary Oliver
I should probably stop here.
What else could I add to Mary Oliver’s poem?
Yesterday I wrote that action precedes inspiration and that through deliberate creative practises, we can learn to be inspired.
However, something was missing.
It all starts with paying attention.
So, this morning I wanted to write about it. About how inspiration ensues from the quality of our attention.
But it’s all there.
In that poem by Mary Oliver.
It is just perfect.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.Antoine de Saint-Exupery
That is the power of attention at work. When we really pay attention, we silence all the noise, all the distractions, all the decorations so we can see the essence of it all.
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”Confucius
This morning I woke up with a few ideas I wanted to write about in my morning practice. But because I couldn’t easily pick one, I’m now stuck and unable to begin while a conversation is still going on in my head.
“This one is interesting!”
“Yeah, but I’m not sure I have enough clarity to write something meaningful.”
“On this other one, we have clarity.”
“But is it interesting enough to read?”
“And what about this?”
“I think I already wrote about that.”
In the meanwhile, time is running, and my morning slot for this practice is getting thinner and thinner. So, here I am. Writing even if I haven’t picked a subject.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in this little morning practice of mine, is that action precedes inspiration. I can’t wait for inspiration to just happens before doing something. Inspiration ensues from my dedication to the creative process.
“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”Steven Pressfield
Mary Oliver was an American poet, a famous one. She won many awards including the Pulitzer Prize. But to be honest, I didn’t know her or her work before a few days ago, when my dear Vanessa sent me the recording of one of her rare interviews.
The interview itself is a sort of a poem, filled with gems.
Like when she talks about her troubled family from which she tried to hide any time it was possible. Running away in the woods.
“I escaped it, and I found the entire world.”
But the part that really struck a chord in me is one of the first things she shared in the interview. She’s talking about discipline and the importance, in particular for young poets, to create a practice for their writing.
“Discipline is very important. We can’t be creative all day long. We have to have an appointment to have that work out on the page. Because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting. Or it just gets tired. […] to have that meeting with that part of oneself, because there are of course other parts of life.”
To have an appointment with my creative self.
I’m in awe. It’s such a powerful image. All of a sudden, discipline becomes something intimate. It’s not about doing more or being more productive. No, it is all about taking care of my creative self.
Here you can listen to the interview. On this page, you can read more about Mary Oliver and her poetry.