Thursday, May 1, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Dignity - Part 1 of 2

Week 12 - The final week from Walking in this World, by Julia Cameron.

I liked what the author has to say about difficult times. “Our graceful ability to encompass difficulty rests in our ability to be faithful.”

The Glass Mountain

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The book says, “Trained as we are to be mommies and daddies, and teachers and bankers, lawyers and judges, and so many responsible things, sickened as we are by the woeful tales of artists as irresponsible monsters, we may have difficulty mustering sufficient responsibility to our art and our artists, to protect them during the occasional, necessary times of hard climbing as a large project finally lurches into form – or does not. This delicate and treacherous stage, the glass mountain of creative doubt, is a slippery slope we face alone. It is on its icy flank that we must find small footholds, edging our way upward from concept to actual conception – a difficult birth, as pivotal as conquering our creative Everest – or nearly.


“In the heat of the creative moment, our thought – or flow – is hot, thick, dense, fast, and light, like good ink.

Our creative size has a tidal aspect – we ebb and we flow. When we are at the height of a creative flight and trying to land, we, too, resemble a beautiful, full-bellied parachute trying to touch earth. Lovely? Yes. But safe? Not necessarily. Completed a draft of a novel may spark thoughts of suicide rather than celebration. Creative post partum can be unexpected and deep.

Parachutes often land with a lurch. Our creative flights may land the same way. Our chute collapses around us and we stumble around blindly. Or the chute stays somewhat open and we tumble across the field, dragged along by our leftover velocity. In other words, a creative landing may leave us a little bruised, battered, and suddenly claustrophobic as our creative chute collapses and our normal life threatens to smother us.

When we are making things, we sometimes get very, very big. Or simply very, very free. In the height of the creative moment, we are not constricted and downsized by our daily rigamarole – our age, our family tensions, our feelings of being a cog in the wheel. It is hard to come back to our normal size after such a heady expansion – and often, we don’t, at first.

As we try to land back in our own life, we may shoot past our real size and feel like someone very small. It’s not so much that our head is too big but that it’s still full of very big ideas.

Above all, we can remind ourselves: The ground does exist, and we find our feet again.

While we may ‘live for our work,’ our life is, and must be, larger than our work. By allowing the dailiness of life to step forward again, we become, in a sense, our own parents, saying ‘Welcome home’ after each of our creative flights.”

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