You only have to think about the splashes of color and stokes of the brush on a favorite painting. Or the drama in orchestral music compositions that make your eyes water and your breath catch. Or a poet's lilting phrases that touch a chord of recognition deep inside. When we think of artists we feel a certain awe at their creations.
Standing alongside our admiration may be the presence of an unvoiced personal wish. Wouldn't it be nice, we muse, if inspiration waved its wand and helped me create something wonderful too. Alas, somewhere in our lives we learned a lesson that found its way deep inside and formed thick cavernous roots. That is, only special gifted individuals can conjure magnificent expressions of beauty. For some reason, we sigh, the creative fairy passed us by. We feel destined to watch and appreciate.
Revising versus Practicing
In her book A Poetry Handbook, renowned American poet Mary Oliver wrote, "In my own work I usually revise through forty or fifty drafts of a poem before I begin to feel content with it." When I first read this I thought that she meant the poem needed to be perfect before she considered sharing it. I imagined her tenaciously chiseling away at her words endeavoring a flawlessness of rhythm and tone. Why so many revisions, I thought. Isn't the pursuit of perfection endless. The idea triggered a memory of when I struggled through my master's thesis. I recalled asking my mentor; how do I know when it's done? "There's always more to do, to fix," he said. "It's never really done." So, until the last minute, I held tight to my work because I wanted my "baby" to be perfect before the world saw it.
But what if Mary Oliver was talking more about practicing and not revising in the quest for perfection. Right away I sense relaxation when I say the word practice. Many of us know what it means to have a meditation practice, a yoga practice, or some other daily practice. We don't expect that we need to be a Tibetan monk to meditate or to be a yogi before we bend into downward facing dog. Instead, we practice, give it our best, and enjoy the benefits. So, why not engage in a regular practice of creative expression for the health of our psyche? We may find that the imagery and distinctive articulations from within reveal our specialness.
Already it feels calmer at the prospect of relaxing into an inner space where the rational mind is not in charge. It's a more encouraging atmosphere where whatever inner expression is prodding consciousness is given the permission to step forward. No need to worry about revisions, rather it's a practice of revealing with curiosity.
Our own creative expression
Initially unearthing the voice of our particular creativity may seem daunting. There's so much to do in our busy modern lives. How will we ever find the time to play creatively. That's a question from our head center. Listening to our heart center, however, we may find another part of who we are is patiently waiting for our attention. Listen to that space and we will discover the inspirations uniquely designed for us. One thing I know for sure, there's a "soul spark," an inner life force, that we were all born with. It's already inside each of us.
Poems and contemplative photography help give voice to my creative inner Self, and I had to learn to let them live - imperfectly. Refining these creations still happens of course. I love tinkering. Yet, I understand now that there's a difference between holding it close not allowing it to breathe and letting my inner Self fly. If I had never listened to the whispers of my inspirations my book Soul's Homecoming would never have taken flight. It felt scary for sure yet wonderful at the same time as I brought my dream into being. How is your creative spark prodding you, and how can you give voice to your imperfect beauty?
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