When I started The Artist's Way (Julia Cameron), I did not expect to end up painting my fence. I'm only a third of the way through the book, too.
Who knows what else will come?
One of the very first exercises in The Artist's Way is to write down the enemies of creativity, the rules that tell us we aren't allowed to create.
Some of my rules are:
- Art doesn't make money, so it's not valuable.
- Art isn't holy enough to spend time on.
- My family can't be proud of me if I make art.
- Art has rules that must be followed in order for it to be good art. If it's not good, it's not valuable.
The next part of the exercise was to write down some reality in place of the rules:
- Art is not about money.
- Creation, in and of itself, is holy.
- I don't need the approval of anyone, not even my family, to do art.
- There are no rules, no fences, no cages, except the ones I agree to.
- Nothing confines my creative spirit.
- If I love it, it is useful to my soul, regardless of how others judge it.
Later on, I chose three of my new realities to include in my daily journaling. Here are some of my reflections on those new realities.
Creation is holy.
- The world, the universe, myself, created by Creator God.
- My acts of creation are holy, image-bearing acts of Love, outpouring the imago Dei.
- I am belonging, and my creation creates more belonging.
- I create beauty.
- I create serenity.
- I create compassion.
- I create space.
- I create so that others may also create and join in the great circle dance of Love.
I am enough.
- I have everything that I need for life and godliness.
- I do not need others to define me.
- I do not need others to compel me.
- I do not need others to judge me.
- I am enough in Love, I am enough in the circle dance.
Nothing confines my creative spirit.
- The old rules do not apply when resurrection has already come.
- If I am confined, it is by a door I have locked on myself, a slavery I have chosen.
- I have been set free, never again to be brought under a yoke of Rules.
- Love is the dance, I am the dancer.
Here's the thing: what's true for me is also true for YOU.
- Your acts of creation are holy, image-bearing acts.
- You are enough. You don't need me or the church or your parents to define and permit you.
- You are only confined by the rules you agree to. You are the dancer of the dance.
What creativity, what art, what holiness, what beauty lies trapped inside of you by unnecessary rules?
What spaciousness, what serenity, what compassion has yet to be created by you?
I was listening to an interview on the radio a couple of days ago with the former Hungarian ambassador to the US, Andras Simonyi. As a teenager, Simonyi and his friends would sneak off into the woods with their old bakelite radio, listening to illicit rock and roll music stations. Simonyi credits rock and roll with bringing the message of freedom to people like him, trapped behind the Iron Curtain. When the Berlin wall fell, it seemd sudden to those on the outside. But art had been making the way for freedom on the inside for years already. (Source)
I'm not sure anybody started playing music with the intention of leading others to freedom. I think people played music because they wanted to play music.
And it turned out that doing what they loved meant space and compassion and freedom for others.
I think we are completely desperate at this point in history for space and compassion and freedom. And I think yelling about it at each other only makes us smaller and angrier and more trapped.
I wonder what would happen if all of us found our rock and roll to play?
Or in my case, a fence to paint.
What if we all did whatever feeds our souls, to our soul's content, until creation created enough space inside of ourselves that there was also plenty of space for everyone else?
Space for me brings forth space for you. Freedom for me begets freedom for you. Not uniformity, not forced conformity, but SPACE.
Compassion, the kind that carries on, infinitely, into the lives of others, born and reborn as each individual opens to the flow of beauty in their individual ways.
Light from light, as the liturgy says.
What if we all just tried it, and see what happens?
What if we all find our fence and paint til our souls are big enough for one another?
I'm starting to think that our existence as a human race depends upon it.