Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others’ versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if…
If we had known who we really were.
~Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
~John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us. All rights reserved.
Photo by Lisa Tate
My friend Lisa has a gift for revealing the magic of the natural world through the lens of her camera. She can make a gumball into a glistening piece of sculpture, a magnolia blossom into an abstract of texture and line and color. She has trained her eye to see beyond the ordinariness of her subjects to their unique beauty and particular essence, and by doing so, offers us a different way of viewing the everyday objects and creatures that inhabit our world.
The flower in the photo above is a lowly clover blossom, rarely seen as the individual marvel that it is, lost instead in a mass of other clover plants, grumbled at and mowed down by those who would have perfect lawns rather than meadows. Think about it…how many of us have ever really seen a clover blossom before? I don’t know about you, but thanks to Lisa, I’ll never look at a field of clover the same way again.
This sort of shift in perspective can change the way we look at everything. Like Lisa, we can train our inner eyes to see beyond surface appearances to the beauty within, and our inner ears to hear the feelings of hurt or longing beneath words that so often prove inadequate. We can train our hearts to receive and reflect the light of our fellow travelers, even when they might be lost in darkness.
As simplistic as it sounds, we really can change the world just by changing our perspective. In fact, it’s really the only way to do it. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s so important that we try. Look deeply. Listen closely. Let your heart be the lens through which you view the world, and remember: just like a camera lens, the more you open it, the more light you let in.
I had a great idea for a new book, although come to think of it, maybe it is just a Facebook post. But it would be called Pre First Draft, and address the way we suit up and show up to be writers, artists, and general tribal-two-stomp creative types.
I think it would begin with an admonition: if you used to love writing, painting, dancing, singing, whatever, but you stopped doing it when you had kids or began a strenuous career, then you have to ask yourself if you are okay about not doing it anymore.
If you always dreamed of writing a novel or a memoir, and you used to love to write, and were pretty good at it, will it break your heart if it turns out you never got around to it? If you wake up one day at eighty, will you feel nonchalant that something always took precedence over a daily commitment to discovering your creative spirit?
If not—if this very thought fills you with regret—then what are you waiting for?
Back in the days when I had writing students, they used to spend half their time explaining to me why it was too hard to get around to writing every day, but how once this or that happens—they retired, or their last kid moved out—they could get to work.
I use to say very nicely, “That’s very nice; but it’s a total crock. Continue reading
This alone is to be feared—the closed mind, the sleeping imagination, the death of the spirit. The death of the body, I think, is a little thing.
To be as kind as I possibly can be, even (especially!) to those who make it difficult.
To listen for and listen to my inner wisdom.
To create something beautiful every day.
To do more of the things that make my heart sing.
To look for the good in everyone.
To focus on what can be instead of what is.
To be true to myself, even when others might not like it.
To live every moment as if it is the most important one (and of course it is).
To cultivate joy in myself and others.
To focus on the things I have in common with people instead of the things that divide us.
To be present.
To make forgiveness a way of life.
To do things I’m afraid to do on a regular basis.
To choose happiness.
To make a difference.
To remember that the people that make me so mad and boggle my mind with the way they think and the things they do also have mothers and sisters and uncles and kids and dogs and favorite ice cream flavors and fears and loves, just like me.
To give myself a break when I don’t live up to all of the above (for I will surely have lots of days when I don’t).
(happy new year!)
“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”
pathwriter’s note: There are some wonderful bits of wisdom here, whether you consider yourself an “artist” or not. We are each the artist of our own life, and the life we create is up to us. Well worth the twenty minutes to watch/listen.
I have no idea what I’m going to write here, but I’m determined to write something and actually post it, so I figured I’d just start and see what happened.
I’ve started lots of posts the last few months, but none of them have really gone anywhere, and frankly, I haven’t really had a great desire to write. Lately, I’ve been thinking about that, and what I’ve come up with is that I’m currently in a phase of taking in information, absorbing new ideas and new ways of seeing, and going through a difficult-to-articulate internal shift.
You know how when you’re learning something new, and you’re getting it, it’s sinking in, but you’re not at a place where you can put that information back out yet? Or when you come up with the seeds of a brilliant idea, and you know it will work, but you have no idea how, so you still have to figure that out, and until you do, you really can’t talk about it because you know people would look at you like you’re crazy? That’s kind of where I am right now. It’s an interesting place to be—fun and exciting, but a little strange, too, because I have no idea how it’s all going to turn out.
And yet…I’m okay with the uncertainty. I’m okay with not knowing. And I’m confident that it’s all going to work out. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I know it’s going to be okay.
And now I’m going to hit Publish.
The way to accomplish the assignment of truly living is to engage fully, richly, and deeply in the living of your dreams. We are made to dream and to live those dreams.
― SARK, Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day
It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I beg your indulgence as I pay tribute to my favorite dancer ever, Gene Kelly. His combination of grace, athleticism, humor and downright joy gave me (still gives me) many hours of pleasure and inspiration. Years ago, when I was filling out a questionnaire at a seminar, one of the questions was “If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?” I was still dancing at the time, and Gene Kelly was the first name that popped into my head. Of course, in my fantasy, lunch would have been followed by dancing with the “Marlon Brando of Screen Dance”.
Gene Kelly would have been 100 years old today, and, thanks to the magic of film, his dancing will continue to inspire generations to come. I never tire of watching the title number from Singin’ in the Rain. When it’s over…well, the lyrics say it all: “What a glorious feeling—I’m happy again!”
So…who inspires you? Do you need a little dose of that energy today? If it’s a musician/singer, listen to his/her/their music. If it’s an author, make a cup of coffee and spend some time with his/her words. Take it in, soak it up, let it fill you. Then go out and inspire someone else with your own brand of awesomeness. :)
I don’t know what year it was when my brother introduced me to Marc Cohn and “Walking in Memphis”, but the song grabbed me by the soul the very first time I heard it. I’ve listened to it countless times since and never tire of it. I’ve even used it for big, sweeping, leap combinations in modern dance classes.
Every time I hear the first few piano notes, my mouth stretches into an involuntary smile, my eyes crinkling and my heart lifting in recognition of an old, well-loved friend. Cohn’s voice and the lyrics and the rolling rhythm and the piano playing all come together in some sort of magical, alchemical mix that never fails to take me to my happy place.
The tune that soothes your spirit may be different from the one that eases mine, but whatever music is balm to your soul, be sure to give yourself the gift of taking the time to listen and enjoy and absorb the healing and renewal that it offers. For me, this one is always a sure thing; I hope you enjoy it, too.