“Leap, and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs
Occasionally, a book or film or starlit walk through the forest unlocks a glimpse into a part of ourselves that has been so neglected (or more accurately exiled) that it seems more like an introduction than a rediscovery. And for a moment, we are drawn into an open, stretching space. Here, there are…
No deadlines to squish big ideas into tiny time boxes.
No phones to disconnect us from our touchable, squeezable, breathable environment.
No alarms to artificially start and stop the rhythms of life.
No schedules to synthetically shape time.
No structures to over-regulate the natural beauty of the universe.
No restrictions on how many cartwheels you can do in a row down swaying, yellow hills.
No standards to impose on the human heart.
No rules to suffocate imaginations.
No curfews to confine the expanse of stars to wish upon.
And from the habit of finding and peopling this space, I’ve become an artist again.
The Artist’s Way
There are a series of seminal works that have shaped my artistic identity and life, but none perhaps as recently formative as Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. A close runner up is Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (although, I suspect Pressfield wrote his book after working through The Artist’s Way. Seriously, though. It’s borderline derivative.).
As much as Pressfield moved my creative needle from paralysis to awkward action, Cameron has helped me throw open the crusted shutters of my soul and flood light into rooms cloaked in the darkness of broken promises to myself, delayed art, wounded ego, and bone-rattling fear.
2 Tools for Creative Recovery
Cameron utilizes 2 primary tools for blocked artists to recover, discover, and otherwise disencumber themselves. I could write 20 posts (and maybe I wiiiiiiilllllllll) on the first tool: Morning Pages (a daily habit of stream-of-consciousness writing for 3 pages). Morning pages have changed me. And the veritable makeup of the universe, as far as I’m concerned.
Here, though, I want to share my experience with her 2nd tool: The Artist Date. The Artist Date is a weekly, solo adventure with no agenda or goal other than to ‘fill the well.’ A well that, for creatives, runs the real risk of depletion without attention.
As an untethered extrovert, spending time by myself is an activity for which I’ll snooze the alarm as many times as I need to avoid the experience all together. But I wrote about donning big girl panties in my maiden post (7 Reasons I Shouldn’t Start a Creative Blog, Part 1).
My First Artist Date
So, I struck out. Just me, my camera, and 12,000 sweaty strangers.
I spent an Autumn morning filling the well with the charismatic poses of well-loved animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Aside from my physiological reaction to parents’ referring to gibbons as monkeys to their children, it was a gorgeous morning! Wildlife photography is focused practice in being present. Each moment is eternally unique – never has it nor will it be recreated in the same way for the rest of time. #mindblown
It is a shared, ephemeral connection with another wild creature, and it…Fills. My. Well.
What fills your creative well? When’s the last time you allowed yourself the space to frivolously wile away a few hours on an imagery-rich adventure? Tell me in the comments!
P.S. Disney was filming their Holiday Special that day, so I snuck this stalker paparazzi shot of Nick Lachey and Julianne Hough. #90skidforlife