I’m listening to the rain tap on my window right now, feeling the dreariness of the evening. And yet there is something quite refreshing in that liquid rolling down the glass pane.
I like watching the water droplets converge and separate as they trickle down (it’s not a hard rain this evening). Sometimes they are impeded by an invisible something on the glass, too small for me to see but made obviously present by their hesitation.
Eventually the weight of gravity pulls them through or around and past. Much like life. I think of people whose lives have joined with mine, only to be separated by the passage of time. Sometimes conflict has stymied our movement, but eventually the weight and purpose of life pulls us through or around.
Somehow this is encouraging to me tonight, on a night when the rain taps at my window pane.
I have taught many students privately and something I share often with them is the importance of paint splotches.
For example, I have a dear friend with an amazing multi-million dollar home. It is exquisite. In the back of the home is a sunroom that he turned into a painting salon. For you see, he is a gifted artist. Elsewhere in his home is spotless, but in this room — the room where creativity reigns — paint splotches cover the floor. And for all the stunning beauty of the rest of his home, my wise friend doesn’t mind these “blotches.”
Why? Because he knows that to create a masterpiece, things at times get messy. After all, when you’re moving a paintbrush back and forth from the palette to the canvas, a little paint periodically falls to the ground below. Artists don’t mind. If anything, it is proof they’re working.
What about the rest of us? The pianist who plays a wrong note during a scale run? A ballerina that trips while en pointe? A sculptor who creases the wrong side of the clay accidentally? Do we get so hung up in our strides towards perfection that we forget this one important lesson? That true art cannot be created without “paint splotches” along the way.
So if you’re a writer, simply focus on getting those words on the page. Don’t worry when at first draft, they’re not the exquisite expressions you dreamed of. If you’re a composer, what’s a few wrong chords along the pathway towards beautiful music that moves the soul? You know that as you continue your efforts, your piece eventually will arrive at the momentum and power you desire.
“Paint splotches” mean nothing more than you are an artist at work. And to be at work is a very good thing, when it comes to creating masterpieces that bless the lives of others.
My husband and I just passed through our 20th Valentine’s together. It was a very busy day. By the end of it, we looked at each other in exhaustion. He smiled at me and said quietly, “That wasn’t a very romantic day, was it.” I smiled back. With a husband like him–who has loved me through the years like he has–who needs paper cards.
2009 is here.
That can be a frightening statement. It lays before me like unexplored compost.
I had a dream the other night where I was surrounded by dark dung. It covered every surface. Its dried and crusty depths repulsed me. But then in the midst of its unyielding blackness, globes of light began to spring forth. They rose and shown illustriously over acres and acres of surfaces. Exponentially seedlings began bursting out of the dull ground, throwing off the oppressive blankets of smelly gloom.
Soon enough I was surrounded by the most glorious colors imaginable, vegetation and blossoms all around me, spilling out farther and farther flung towards mountains in the distance until it was all one blanket of vivid hue.
Then I woke up.
So yes, as I ponder yet another year of life, I realize the significance of 2009. Will it be a year of dung or a year of tumultuous color, made beautiful by the oppressive years of painful pasts? Not just for me, but for all mankind.
I’d say it’s time we all become farmers, using the dung of painful choices from others’ hands to create gardens of life and color and joy. Time to get creating!
Creativity is a bit like hiking through a tunnel. The darkness can be overwhelming when we first venture forth into its narrow chamber, especially if it’s a long tunnel. But if we trust our feet to keep moving and follow the sense of the air moving past us, we eventually travel the length of the tunnel and arrive back in the sun.
The moving air knows the way out is forward. The creative process requires the movement.
Ahhh, I love snow. It’s been so long since I’ve lived in snow. Florida, where I’ve lived for the last twelve years, now seems like a dream since my family and I moved to the west. The cold may get old eventually, but there are always purposes for cold.
Take garlic bulbs, for example. They will not yield their healing properties without having over-wintered in the cold ground of this frigid time. Tulips will not spring forth in glorious blooms without having been imprisoned in the freezing dirt of the same season.
Sometimes I think creativity is the same. Without experiencing austere conditions, how can we write with depth? How can we paint with emotion? How can we dance with feeling evident all the way down through our toes?
Yes, sometimes I get tired of the cold…in more ways than one. Yet that is when I wonder if I’m rejecting an artist’s most potent friend. Art of any kind becomes more resiliant, more whole, more real when its artist has faced cold at least once in a lifetime.
As 2008 comes to a close, what are your creativity goals for the coming year? Have you thought about them? And if so, what have you done for them (thereby, for you)? A goal not written is merely a wish.
I’ve thought about this a lot recently, and have been musing over the impact of written desires versus just-thought-about-wishes. Sad to say, in the past I’ve wished a lot of things, but haven’t been very stellar about writing them down. Not so for 2009. I’ll be changing that approach for sure!