Recovering a Sense of Creative Safety
Updated: Jun 1
Beginning this process has been a little messy, to say the least. I wasn't fully aware of what I was about to walk into.
As I started to do some research, trying to develop the concept for the site, I came across the book "The Artist Way." At first, I looked at it as a way to build content... I just needed something to talk about, really. Now it seems that I'm elbow deep in a redemptive process that I know I've needed but wasn't aware I was about to begin.
From the start, this has been a literal kick in the teeth. Having to face my own weakness and failures in ways I hadn't considered.
I've always thought of myself as a creative person, and although I wasn't raised in a home where art mattered much, the thought of being an artist has always been close.
The want of it... the drive to create has led me down some interesting paths.
Even with all of the creative things I do, music, writing, painting, photography, film, I have never really considered myself to be an "Artist."
Maybe it has something to do with my definition of the term.
Which I'm sure is fatally flawed.
As I began reading the book and diving into the process, I was met with that flaw within the first few pages.
I am what the author, Julia Cameron, calls a "Shadow Artist," blocked from the understanding of my own true nature as an artist. I am calling myself creative, surrounding myself with other artists, and actively and intimately participating in other people's art projects but somehow distanced from the term.
My aim here is to capture a sense of the process rather than outline the book, but for those who are unfamiliar, these are the main elements involved:
Reading: Each chapter covers a different segment of recovery. Chapter one is "Recovering a Sense of Safety." Here she touches on topics such as synchronicity, which has played a huge role from the beginning of the process for me.... more on that in a bit.
Morning Pages - 3 handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind first thing in the morning—a sort of evacuation of thought. Write the pages and leave them unread.
Artist Date - A solo excursion meant to re-fill the creative tank. It could be time spent exploring new creative ideas or projects or simply time alone to collect thoughts.
Tasks - Various tasks are designed to further our understanding of the process as we go. So far, mostly writing exercises meant to root out past experiences, thoughts, and feelings contributing to our creative blockage.
The process seems like a lot of work, and in many ways, it is... but it is necessary and manageable. Unless you also decide to build a website, start a blog, and a youtube channel to go along with it.
Hopefully, this isn't an attempt at self-sabotage. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
After I cracked the first few pages, I was immediately confronted with the idea of synchronicity.
Occurrences that most of us brush off as a coincidence that, when viewed from a slightly different angle, become moments of connection with a seemingly cosmic force.
Many call that force God. Some call it the creative spirit or "Divine Intervention."
I'm not the one to give it a title... but when it happens, it can settle on you softly like a flake of snow in the stillness of the night, or it can explode on you, blasting through the heavy stones you've spent a lifetime erecting around your emotional core.
For me, it has been the latter. At least so far.
Although I've had moments in my life that are nearly impossible to dismiss as coincidence, I seem to have lost contact with them. I think somewhere along the line, I closed off that connection in favor of a more rational and intellectual approach.
Telekinesis would cool... I mean, who doesn't want to be Luke/Rey Skywalker. But to believe that some mystical force is reaching out to me, actively seeking a connection, steadily and faithfully working to replenish my creative spirit?
I don't know if it's because it seems unlikely to my rational brain or that it brings with it a sense of responsibility, but the thought of it makes me uneasy.
Why would God choose me to speak through?
A topic also discussed in the book that I'll write about later...
All this to say that for me, at least, science and reason have always been somewhat easier to wrangle than spirituality or religion.
At least until I bought this damn book...
3 days after I started "The Artist Way," I got a phone call from my brother.
He called to tell me that our father, who I hadn't spoken with in nearly 15 years, had suffered a stroke.
This is important because at the top of the list of "reasons why I don't see myself as an artist" sits my relationship with my father.
To be fair, I cannot lay all the blame on him.
I certainly have a causal responsibility to bear for my own lack of self-worth. But I can say that the consequences of his anger and volatility during my youth have played more than a bit part in my story.
So... here I am.
Faced with a decision.
Do I rationalize this moment as just a coincidence? Or do I choose to stop and let God make this connection ... Is this the crack in a doorway that I'm meant to push open?
Or just a dumb set of random shit that happens for no reason at all.
The next day - I found myself knocking on the door of the old stone house I grew up in.
Time to push the door open....see what's on the other side.