I’m sitting on my bed legs stretched out and Mac on my lap in the guest bedroom of my good friend’s flat overlooking Dee Why beach in Sydney. The view from here is absolutely spectacular. I can see the beach and all the activity along the shoreline, which wraps around like a little crescent. There are surfers in the water, people chilling on beach towels and milling about, children playing in the sand, and a little pool of seaweed forming a beautiful pattern in the water on the near end of the beach. The air has cooled down from earlier today when it was what the Aussies would call a “scorcher” and there is a gentle breeze coming through the open sliding door. Among the sounds trickling in from outside, I can hear the familiar buzz of people talking and kids shouting in the distance, a few nearby birds humming and the ever present calming sound of the waves rolling in gently towards the shore. You might say my surroundings are picture perfect.
I, myself, have been a little less than focused today. My mind seems to be drifting off easily and often. After a somehow productive morning, a smoothie with a friend and a quick jump in the ocean to cool down from the heat, I have managed to do very little this afternoon. In an hour, I’ll be heading out to meet my cousin and her hubby for dinner, and it would be very easy for me to let that time pass quickly and effortlessly as the rest of the day has.
Instead, I decided to come to the page for a quick visit and see what wants to come out. In listening to that little nudge, I have somehow found myself with the opportunity to stop, breathe in the mellow early evening atmosphere and to put my day into perspective. Writing about my day gives me the chance to see it from a bird’s eye view, much like the scene outside my window, and simply observe it, even appreciate it, without judgment. Writing gives me access to that higher voice that reminds me that it’s ok to have a lazy afternoon and to enjoy the people and place I’m visiting while I still can. Writing gives me a sense of peace and acts like a meditation practice, inviting me to be still, to quiet my active mind and to tune into what’s there beneath the surface.
For this reason, I have come to be a lover of all things creative and on most days, I act accordingly. I believe that acting on those inner yearnings and following those little nudges to wherever they lead us enriches our experience and allows us to connect to something greater. For me lately, the new territory I have been venturing into is writing. Perhaps the act of writing itself is not so new but the way I’ve been doing it has been.
Thanks to the incredible wisdom and inspiration of Julia Cameron, my creative lighthouse at many points along my artist’s way, I have been delving deeper into the craft of writing as a spiritual practice, much in the same way that I once did with music. What I’m discovering is that there’s not much more to it than just showing up, opening up and letting it flow.
I understand this is easier said than done and that for many of us, myself included, the harsh eyes of our inner critic will often attempt to keep us from claiming our right to write (that’s the title of J.C.’s book, by the way, and it’s definitely worth a read). If it’s not perfectionism or something like it, there’s an army of creativity-killing villains lurking in the shadows of our subconscious, which are all out to stop us from trying our hand at something new, from shining our light and from rising to new heights in the process.
In my own experience as an artist and creatively curious creature, I have come to know that the most potent antidote to all of these enemies of inspiration is resolving to show up and engage in a process of self-expression for the simple sake of it, rather than because of any outcome, goal or agenda.
Giving ourselves permission to just do something for the feeling of it because we’ll feel better after we do it is a radical act of self-love. Allowing ourselves to do it badly, rather than not at all, and to just create, write, sing, paint, dance, surf, draw, photograph, TRY and give it a shot from where we’re at is a superpower most great artists and successful people will require on their way to the top, and it’s one they will use often. And often, it ends up being the way that some of the greatest work gets made, with no plan or will of their own, but by sheer Grace, which can only bless those who are open to receiving the blessings.
In this case, that openness means making ourselves available for the creative process and all the transformative magic within it to happen for us, to us, within us and through us. That’s really all we have to do and the rest somehow takes care of itself.
When I approached the blank screen forty minutes ago, my first attempt at a sentence was “I have nothing to say.” It took a minute to let all the noise out and go a little deeper but once I did, writing felt more like catching a wave and riding it to shore rather than swimming against the tide. All it took was my willingness to be there and to open up to what wanted to come out.
The more I practice just showing up, the more I realize that this is not an isolated incident or one-off experience. I have come to believe that there is a wellspring of creative energy and inspiration that wants to be used by us, that wants to come through us and shape us into the masterpieces that we are in the process. And through that process, the art forms and creations that get made, which ought to only be measured by how much heart went into them, have the power to heal us, be shared and invite others to follow their own path.
Today, I’m inviting you to listen to your heart and give yourself permission to try your hand at something new, to dabble in a potential passion, to indulge your curiosity and see what happens. Today, I’m inviting you to put something down on the page, to splash some colours around, to strum a few chords, to sing a song you like, to bust a few moves, to paddle out into the water and make yourself available for a wave. Today, I’m inviting you to experiment, explore and express for no other reason than the fact you will feel good and derive some sense of pleasure and joy from doing it.
After all, isn’t that the whole point? To FEEL good? To ENJOY? To be HAPPY?
Published by The Daily Love (Oct. 27th, 2013)