Nec Temere, Nec Timide
B is for Bryant
Burning Firey Rays
courtesy of Sue Martin
All of us have been creatively blocked. That is an understatement for many of us. I write this today because I am blocked. Ideas are eluding me even with the wealth of prompts being presented to me on the blogs. Words won’t come. Images won’t coalesce in my mind. I cannot focus to read. My mind drifts.
So what do you do? My suggestion is the standard cure of writing about the block. But sometimes that is even hard to do—like right now! If you should also find yourself in this situation, even if it is just going through the motions, even if what you write or draw is absolutely awful—do it anyway! If you get out of the habit of creating, you will have a hard time getting back into it. Do not lose momentum in your creativity because some jackass in your life has kicked you in the teeth. Do not lose what you have gained because life has thrown you a curve ball. Pick up the blasted ball and throw it back! (Metaphorically speaking!)
Step away from the problem or person who is stifling you. Go on a vacation if you can afford it. If you can’t, walk to a park. Breathe. Meditate. Pray. If you are a spiritual person and have a particular faith tradition, draw on it. If you have a higher power, call on it. Use the block as a means of transmutation of your creative self. Make it an alchemical process of the soul.
But whatever you do, do not put down that pen, that brush, that whatever. Do what you need to do to keep your creative spirit alive. It's a matter of survival.
B is for Bonfires of Creativity, raging fires that transform you, burn away all that's not necessary, leaving nothing but pure metals and jewels behind, rubies, emeralds, gold, silver, platinum....
B is for the Blade of Grass
When the alchemists speak of meditari they mean an inner dialogue and hence a living relationship to the answering voice of the 'other' in ourselves. We can achieve this by talking about the meaning of life with a blade of grass or a mushroom.
image courtesy of Monika Roleff
When early alchemists looked to explain the mysteries of the structure of the universe they looked within. They believed that answer to the mystery lay within their own bodies and in that part of the body we call the unconscious. The alchemist believed that he could ask matter to tell him what he consists of. Instead of treating matter as a dead object to be thrown into a vessel and then cooked in order to see what would come out, one could just as well take a block of iron, for instance, and ask it what it was, what kind of life was, what it was doing, how it felt when melted. Since all these materials are within you, you can contact them directly. In that way alchemists contacted what we now call the collective unconscious. They consulted this power directly, by talking to the iron or quicksilver. Naturally the unconscious fills the gap with a personification.
Experience has taught me that listening to a blade of grass, for example, provides us with a fresh perspective. Look at the following and assess this for yourself.
"Speak to me blade of grass!"
"The blade of grass said "You sicken me so I will make it quick, follow your instincts, that's all. Now get back to work and leave me alone. Oh! One more thing! Tell those insignificant soccer players to stop treading on my friends" BUT "Get me out of your ear. You give me the cooties." BUT "I meant that! Now get a life."
"Blade of Grass, speak to me."
"When I put my grass up to my ear it told me all about nature. It talked to me about how wonderful it is to listen to the birds sing and in summer to listen to the crickets chirping.
These children gain wisdom and insight as they talk to the grass and personify it. By personifying objects we gain insight into the human psyche. When Sylvia Plath writes
Over time I have discovered that it really does work to talk to 'the meek'. Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions and the humble blade of grass all have something important to say. They can provide us with a fresh perspective; another way of seeing things. Recently I gave my workshop participants a potato each and instructed them to care for it and talk to it on a daily basis. They were told to keep the secret diary of the potato for a month. If the discussion around the table was any indication this humble earth loving creature was freely dispensing fresh insight and home spun philosophy in no time at all. The notion of being in the dark was enough to get the writing going. Then my mother remarked that if Dad saw her potato he would pop it in the ground in no time and the conversation quickly turned to the joy of growing vegetables and the exquisite taste of a home grown spud. Gleeful I remarked that we could write pages about caring for potatoes, harvesting potatoes, storing potatoes, methods of planting potatoes.....until I caught the look in their eyes and realized that they were all off in a fantasy land, planning the perfect spot to plant some spuds. Oh well! It sounded like a good idea to start people writing!
Attending to the Muse
Dip into the vegetable basket and choose a vegetable to adopt for a month. Establish a relationship with the vegetable of your choice and maintain their secret diary. If you have a sunny area in the garden consider undertaking this simple project. Go to a tyre outlet and ask the man if you can have three or four old tyre. Put two of them in a sunny spot and fill them with earth. Its cheapest to buy potting mix in bulk. Fill two tyres with earth and plant your potatoes. Dad simply checked out the potato stall for ones with 'eyes'.
Cover, water and fertilise. When they grow add another tyre or two to support the young stems. Keep adding soil and straw or mulch. Dad always said that you can grow potatoes in a large garbage bin. He should know. We all thought that he had market gardening in his blood because he supplied the family with beautiful organic vegetables for years.
Have fun with the vegetables but don't get so carried away that you forget to write.
by Heather Blakey