Artists are courageous beings. They begin with a blank slate – a sheet of music, an empty canvas, a block of marble, a slab of clay, an empty stage. There is nothing but the desire to follow the impulse to express itself to itself.
Humans, each and every one of us, are after all courageous beings – we are always and everywhere artists. We approach each day as if we know what will be created and experienced. The truth is we never know. We live into a pretending, and even in that we are creating a work of art. This art form – the pretending, assuages our fears and insecurities, until they don’t. The question that arises for me is this: What is the source of my creativity and my creations – is it fear, or is it a natural unfolding that is irresistible and inextinguishable?
Some of you may have noticed that I hadn’t contributed to Orcas Issues for a few weeks in August. Something came up. Something I wasn’t able to manage quickly and effectively. I believe this process – the something came up process, is part of every person/artist’s life; and yet I never get used to it, and I never like it. Actually, I hate it, even though inevitably the outcome is hugely valuable to my mind, spirit, and emotional self. It’s my ego-self that rallies against the resistance, and to a large degree it is the ego-self that created the resistance in the first place. We are complicated beings, indeed!
What I write usually begins with a spark of an idea – an impulse that desires expression. This spark gets incubated over a number of days. I feel into it, taking it personally, while questioning the universality of the idea – is it universal to human beings in general – or just based on my perceptions? Through this process I’m always stirred at an emotional level, which more often than not creates degrees of discomfort that I don’t like being with. It’s part of the creative process – to stretch our comfort zones to include greater capacity for seeing and knowing oneself and one’s reality.
Well, in August, the brakes went on hard and I was stopped. By what you might ask? I was stopped by that part of me that questions whether writing is fulfilling my human spirit. I questioned myself – am I writing from ego or from the essence of Divine Creativity? “What’s the point of writing,” I ask? “What am I getting out of this, and is it worth the discomfort?”
Truth is, creativity is just the unfolding expression of the Universe – that’s what the Universe does – It is creator, creative, and that which is created! Some call this God.
When I’m trying to get something from my creativity, now, the impulse to create is affected by fear, and the impulse to create begins to wane. Like any relationship where demands are placed on what is natural and effortless, the impulse to shrug off the demands interferes with the natural unfolding, perhaps bringing everything to a halt! Artist Block!
I believe that regardless of the context – endeavors of art or endeavors of humanness, every human being questions the degree to which their activities satisfy and fulfill their spirit. That we question is, I believe, a spiritual quest-ion. Few of us perhaps can change our circumstances, and even fewer have the consciousness to change their inner reality; most accept their circumstances and live out their lives suffering, settling and surviving, as best they can.
A dear friend of mine survived not only stage 4 throat cancer, but he survived radiation and chemotherapy. Interestingly enough, a fellow down in LA called me this week; he too survived stage 4 throat cancer, radiation and chemo. Both men were stirred and affected by all the myriad of trials of going through such a horrendous process. Both found they had been significantly changed by the life threatening process of saving their lives. Both found that the lives they had been living no longer satisfied and nourished their wellbeing. Cancer required them to face insurmountable fear, and as newly realized artists of their hearts they now want to create their futures not by pretending to be artists but by courageously facing the blank canvas of what is, not what they hoped would be.
As artists, we can do that which comes easy to us – over and over again – it looks good, and it proves that we are good enough. Or we can keep stretching our abilities, our vision, our orientation, our willingness to express the essential nature of our being, regardless of what it looks like.
I don’t yet have answers to my questions – why do I write, why do I create? Sometimes these questions are just mind games, which only create fear, resistance, and interference with the natural impulse to create one’s heart’s desire. My experience is – and I believe this to be an absolute and Universal truth, that if we ignore the thoughts of fear and the discomfort that arises with those thoughts of fear, each one of us will effortlessly follow the impulse to create beauty in all its expressions.
Every artist I know faces the impulse to listen to those fearful thoughts. Those who fail to sing, dance, write, paint, play to their heart’s content, are those who aren’t quite ready yet, but they – we, are getting closer and closer every minute of our lives! To me, it can’t be any other way, because to be human is to be a creative – yes – a creative.