Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Creating a Sunday Afternoon
I take full credit for arranging a perfect sunny, mostly warm afternoon, fit for sitting around the table on the deck and making collages, but I only handled the weather. The rest of y'all brought the creativity and the sharing.
Collaging was the perfect exercise. 1. It got rid of a lot of my magazines which no doubt liberated my creative soul. 2. It gave us an excuse to enjoy the dappled shade and the trash falling out of the sugar maple (which always has something to contribute.) And 3. It unleashed The Magic.
Here's the secret of big C Creativity: It's always right here, right now. Close as your shadow. On the tip of your tongue. At the ballpoint of your pen. In the click of your knitting needles. In the tune that plays in your silence. It's spread thick on the world and all we need to do is scoop up whatever calls to us and begin.
Creativity doesn't have to be hard or rigorous. It doesn't have to send you off to some lonely garret, drive you to drink, or break your heart. It doesn't demand that you bleed. Creativity calls you out to play. That other stuff, the hard, lonely, tragic stuff? We bring that and we can chose to leave it behind. At least for an afternoon.
One of the first things I learned in the Artist's Way was the rediscovered delight of picking colors. Crayons. Day Glo writing paper. Making the choices with insouciant freedom, the way we used to when we could say, without reflection, "Mmmm. I love green. I don't want purple today. This orange is way too orange." It's easy when you're five and don't have to paint the whole kitchen with it.
Good news. We truly can go back there if we just allow ourselves the freedom to play.
On Sunday afternoon, I gave only casual attention to what I was tearing from the magazines. I "followed directions" in the way that you can when directions aren't rules. I glanced through the pages for things that "called to me." Like dowsing for water, trying to feel the tug of "I like that." or "I want that but not this."
The conversation floating easily around the table was wonderful. Scraps of sharing. Dollops of gossip. Showers of encouragement. I grabbed pictures at random and tore off the images I didn't want. Glued it all down until lots of something covered up a little bit of everything. When it was done. It was done. I admired the other collages: especially the one with all guys. The one with layers of "pop-up" images. The one with the big word, "GO." The one with the bright shiny idea in the middle.
But I didn't actually look at mine until this morning.
I took a course about ten years ago that used collaging as an exploration. When you finished your collage you'd look at it and see if you could draw some conclusion. No wrong answers, no pressure, just whatever came to mind as you looked. And then you'd say (to the best of my recollection/It was ten years ago), "It seems like ----------" And fill in the blank. "It seems I like pictures of fruit." "It seems like the world is a dangerous place." "It seems like I'll never have enough money." Whatever. A gentle inquiry.
So, this morning I sat in what I believe I must now call Bill's fabulous garden and looked at my collage and said to myself, "It seems like -------------" And what I heard was, "It seems like it's full of longing." And it is. I am. For trees and boats and worried looking fish and lipstick, lost cats and leaping and the barns of my childhood.
This is how I know it's true: It touched my heart and made me cry. Not in a bad way, but as Allie in my novel says about the verse Tom quotes to her, "Bam. Just like that, it pierced my heart, the way truth and poetry does."
Creativity is small and easy, always accessible. You can do it because you can't not do it. And you'll recognize it if you sit with it and open your heart to it, because it feels like truth. Like grace.
You may or may not want to share your creations with the world. The world may or may not embrace them. But the truth you make for yourself is whole and pure, absolutely self-defining and self-assured. Creativity is your birthright. It comes standard on your humanity, and it is it's own reward.
I wish you the joy of it.
Posted by Annie at 9:25 AM