Breathing Still

Back from vacation, with my brain as slow as a lime in an oceanside cerveza.  Only now can I see how much my mind works overtime.  Like the 405 freeway every brain lane is full, with thoughts honking and swerving to pass each other, overloading themselves to get into that carpool lane and move.

But now, clear air.  Wide open country lanes are few but free, ideas fueling the engine to get things in motion.

The freedom comes not from multi-multi-multi-tasking, getting it all done so that it would be all done and rest would follow.

Instead: Continue reading “Breathing Still”

Walking the Sidewalk

From a skyward Seattle hotel room, I watch strangers walk in the rain, past a McDonalds drive-through painted into the parking lot like a toy playset.  The gray and drizzly afternoon is filled with people going about their business. They move on, oblivious to the cartoon duck overlooking the “Duck Rides” touring company, an old relic now penned in by modern high rise buildings and greyish-green hills beyond.  People on the way home from work, looking neither left nor right, not knowing who they walk amongst, stepping unconsciously from one block to the next.

They don’t know she is about to hear her name called Continue reading “Walking the Sidewalk”

The Writer’s Hammer

Some days I want to stay inside the house, inside myself, like Emily Dickinson.  It’s all too fuzzy to bring out into the light.

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To Tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

But somehow tucked away inside that 1860’s Massachusetts home she dared the gap between herself and her paper.

Sparking from the paper to the world, was for her, too wide a gap, and I can quite see why – Continue reading “The Writer’s Hammer”

Creating Competitively?

By putting something onto the page I can see it more clearly and ask: Do I really think that?  Am I ready to put a period at the end of that sentence?

In my campaign for creativity, I’m lobbying myself to move the creative processing outside my head and into the world.  I wrote about shedding a fear of failure, and capturing the creative energy as ideas rush in and out like the tides.  Now I’m championing writing specifically, but there are complicating factors.

Get out of your head

Pen and paper are a gift because ideas can be more freely evaluated outside of my brain.  Inside the introvert’s brain, ‘thoughts’ are like an old circus tent – wanting to fly away, but tied down by ropes staked into the mind’s fear-grounds:  being wrong or unprepared or misunderstood.  To speak it out loud feels like a commitment, so too often I keep it inside just to be sure.  And it’s hard to separate the idea from the ropes.

But if I can put it out onto paper, it’s easier to see which ropes need cutting.

Flip the coin

Sometimes the rope is a gift of course – you might call it restraint – preventing an offensive comment or forcing me to listen further. But every strength coin has a flipside, heads or tails, with the weakness waiting underneath.   When an introvert’s coin is tossed, hesitancy often wins.

(Or maybe that coin is upside down. If someone’s first impulses were printed onto an ever-published ticker tape – we might call these tweets – then perhaps restraint would be the strength and the weakness speaking out?)

You probably know which side of your coin shows naturally, and if it’s hesitancy I’m here to encourage you to flip it.

Timely Writing

Wanting to “get it right” and be insightful presents a challenge when responding to issues of the day.

Numerous are the voices spouting timely information.  Later come the insights, for those who bother.

Admired is the creator who can offer something timely and insightful.

For instance, this week I’ve been unsettled by the open display of racism in Charlottesville, but it may be awhile until I have something in-depth to share on it. So far the timely writing I’ve seen has focused mainly on the protest event, but the insights are in the disturbing racism.

I’ll be writing quietly, to make sense of it all, but when to put it out there?  It takes time to form perspective, but I fear that waiting too long allows the tweeters to shape the world.

Change the world

Every creation is not going to change the world – contrary to my younger ideals, which only raised my standards to the point of non-publishing.

But creating and sharing something, while in and of itself is enough, also clears the way for the next creation.  Sometimes I think creativity resides in a pipe that gets blocked and must be unclogged in sequential order, first in, first out.  If you want to get to that brilliant thing you always imagined, you need to pump out the below-your-standards coal.

Even if you insist your masterpieces will change the world, perhaps that lofty staircase is built with uneventful creations that look to you like small blocks of plain concrete.

Creating Competitively?

I’ve half-written songs that stayed in my living room for years, only to later hear echoes of those same lyrics in another artists’ work.  I was frustrated when yet again I waited too long to share, and want to learn from this.

I carry the misconception that only one person gets to give the world an idea and my hesitancy meant it wasn’t me. Something seems wrong with this conclusion, but I wonder if “competitive creativity” could be useful to move things outside the studio sooner.  Is that crazy?

I have found writing to be the gift of a friend to try out ideas with.  I’m working through the above complications to champion creativity.  Do any of these affect you?  Please add a comment. BTW you don’t have to use your real name, you shy people, I’m not!)


Featured artwork this week and last by Heather Ridenour.  The art is transporting, and I am appreciating her “in process” presentation :  see for yourself

Creative Tides

This is one of the most creative years on record for me.  My last post described being bad at something long enough to improve.  Working through that fear of failure was the first part:

In the drive to create, embracing failure keeps my perfectionist foot away from the brake pedal.

But creating still requires the other foot to step on the gas. So what’s been driving that?

Shocked into disorientation, I’ve been driving to make sense of a shifting world and a shifting worldview.  Was it one specific thing?  It was so many things that it felt like one thing, as if the sound waves of countless quiet complaints finally converged into a sonic boom, all catching up at the same time to cause one large disruption.

Though years of routine input had formed a solid ground, it didn’t allow for a new openness to the world.  I’ve had to let some of that sure footing that drift out to sea.

That prompted me to create.

Looking for fresh voices I found a tidal wave of input from conversations, podcasts, blogs, and books.

That prompted me to create.

In both directions of this exchange – displacement and replacement – the human spirit spins like a turbine.

It is the human version of tidal power generation, where creative energy gets captured in both directions, as anger drives the old water out and excitement sees new ideas rushing in.

tidal_flows

Both drive me to create.

I’ve had to find an outlet for all these new and swirling thoughts.  I wanted a new way to communicate into existing relationships that were thriving on implicit agreement.

Photo by Heather Ridenour. Click image for more.

Writing, painting, music – melding ideas into pictures – allow an introvert to work out the conversation in the solitude of the studio.  Then it can be shared, having finally united the bifurcated brain into something organized enough for the outside world.

The result has been a flurry of creative output.  The willingness to work at it is driven more by a need to express than having a clear audience. In the end, my creations may help others understand me, or know that they are understood.  But in the beginning, I create to understand.

I’ve been through enough phases, creative and otherwise, to know it won’t last.

But when the tides change, that’s the moment to go for it.  Not waiting for the water to settle.  I look back on letters from a couple years ago and I would not write them the same now.  Nor could I write as descriptively now about what it was like then.

Time itself doesn’t always move us forward:  it’s largely because I took the time to write then that I have been able to move forward to now.

So for now, in this tidal moment, I’m staying away from that perfectionist brake pedal and keeping my foot on the gas.


source for tidal power graphic above. A better one is below from different source:

power-generation-at-a-glance-38-638

Endless Mystery

It’s amazing how much we know about God. But we don’t marvel enough at how much we don’t know about God. By remembering how far beyond our box the Divine really is, we are treated to the relief of humility, and God is treated to our praise and wonder.

I wrote some lyrics below to try to capture this thought – the “I’m just here for the poetry” readers can skip ahead… otherwise consider this:

It’s good to embed our doctrines – what we suppose we know about God – into the larger circle of truths we can and cannot fathom. truth-knowledgeThis picture¹ shows a blue circle of absolute truth and a yellow circle of what we know. I’ve been living out my faith within the castle walls of green – where knowledge overlaps truth and we are sure we are right. I didn’t account much for being wrong about God (yellow) and didn’t focus much on the wild, endless mystery of God (blue).²

I wasn’t even aware that part of the yellow was hanging outside the circle of truth, but like an election ballot’s hanging chad, doubt was cast upon my confident vote.

Like an election ballot’s hanging chad, doubt was cast upon my confident vote.

Humility: if I’m wrong about some things, maybe I’m wrong about other things. And from there I can begin to see that I cannot see it all. But this mystery is magnificent, and unlike our topics of expertise, can never become boring. As Richard Rohr says, “Mystery isn’t something that you cannot understand – it is something that you can endlessly understand! There is no point at which you can say, “I’ve got it.” Always and forever, mystery gets you!”³

I intend to use the green area – what I know about God – as a sort of base camp for excursions: to climb up the mountain exploring newly-knowns and ancient truths about the Divine.  But I need to remember that yellow and blue make green, and keep a filter to let misconceptions flow downstream and away.  And here are the promised lyrics:

Mystery

Shining in the morning light
Showering the starry night
Blinding bright while giving sight
Mystery

Outside time, beyond our ways
Thousand years might be a day
Creation that re-creates
Mystery

Far above us all, and worlds beyond
Now we see only in part
Deep inside us all, where we belong
Someday we will see all of your heart
Mystery

Breathing life eternally
Underpinning history
All in one, in one, complete
Mystery

Ancient mover and unmoved
Always new and ever true
Ever better than we knew
Mystery

Far above us all, and worlds beyond
Now we see only in part
Deep inside us all, where we belong
Someday we will see all of your heart
Mystery

 

♦ weekendswell ♦

See more poetry (for example Ready or Not) by clicking “Follow Weekendswell”

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¹Adapted from a diagram at Achter de Samenleving


²This is another articulation of the “unknown unknowns” concept (which earned Donald Rumsfeld some bad press but is actually a great grid for understanding when not being used to avoid a question). The idea is that we know many things (known knowns), and there are other things we don’t know but at least are aware of (known unknowns), e.g. is there life on Mars. With these we can feel pretty smart because within our field of view are a bunch of ideas we understand and many we don’t, but may expect to soon.


What we overlook are the unknown unknowns – the questions we aren’t even thinking to ask. This becomes important in fields like engineering – a software tester must look past her list of extensive tests and ask what hasn’t been asked. A helicopter designer anticipates many knowns that can go wrong, but what aren’t they thinking of? So too when we put the Divine under the microscope – we might pin down one area (e.g. virgin birth) but completely miss what doesn’t fit under the scope (e.g. our universe may be one blink in a universe of universes).


³Richard Rohr in, The Divine Dance