Sunday, July 28, 2013

gathering adventure

alight aloft

Well, this wasn't exactly a slow week, especially at work, but the good news is that I'm making great progress through The Sun (the real benefit of this is how it consistently opens my heart), journaled 4 out of 5 mornings, didn't work through lunch once, got to meditation group on Wednesday (looking forward to yoga this week), and I think we ate everything (or at least a portion of each thing) in our Bugtussle basket!

I ordered all my books (used) for school last weekend and it's been fun going through the mail each evening to see what's arrived. Most of it! One of my classes is on archetypes and the other is on symbols, so the bulk of the books are by Jung. I've made space for them on one of my bookcases, which has involved finding a good home for some other books. I'm thoroughly enjoying this gathering phase and reading a book that was on the suggested reading list: The Courage to Create by Rollo May, first published in 1975. I was drawn in right from the preface (and was delighted to see that it had been written in the land of Squam Art Workshops: Holderness, NH). Here are some quotations (his italics) that have really resonated with me:

"Suppose the apprehension of beauty is itself a way to truth? Suppose that 'elegance' - as the word is used by physicists to describe their discoveries - is a key to ultimate reality? Suppose Joyce is right that the artist creates 'the uncreated conscience of the race'?" p. 7

"We shall often be faced with despair, as indeed every sensitive person has been during the last several decades in this country. Hence Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Camus and Sartre have proclaimed that courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair." p. 12

"I propose a new form of courage of the body: the use of the body not for the development of musclemen, but for the cultivation of sensitivity. This will mean the development of the capacity to listen with the body." p. 15

"It is a seeming contradiction that we must be fully committed, but we must also be aware at the same time that we might possibly be wrong." p. 20

"Then we know the meaning of the statement attributed to Leibnitz: 'I would walk twenty miles to listen to my worst enemy if I could learn something.'" p. 21

"Some new vision is triggered in us by our contact with the painting; something unique is born in us. This is why appreciation of the music or painting or other works of the creative person is also a creative act on our part." p. 22

"When I use the word rebel for the artist, I do not refer to revolutionary or to such things as taking over the dean's office; that is a different matter. Artists are generally soft-spoken persons who are concerned with their inner visions and images. But that is precisely what makes them feared by any coercive society. For they are the bearers of the human being's age-old capacity to be insurgent. They love to immerse themselves in chaos in order to put it into form, just as God created form out of chaos in Genesis. Forever unsatisfied with the mundane, the apathetic, the conventional, they always push on to newer worlds." p. 32

"'Creativity,' to rephrase our definition, 'is the encounter of the intensely conscious human being with his or her world.'" p. 54

As you can see, there's something amazing on pretty much every page! And it's been such a friendly feeling to find my good buddy James Joyce mentioned so often. I must admit, I'm feeling pulled back to the Wake. Even my title for the photo above ("alight aloft"), which felt like a reference to something, I realized echos the last mysterious fragment line of the book:

A way a lone a last a loved a long the

Saturday, July 20, 2013

slowing down adventure

iowa book

I had the incredibly good fortune to spend last weekend in Iowa with my dear and delightful sister-in-law at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival! We took Keeping a Spiritual Journal together and, appropriately, it was a weekend filled with simplicity and ease. The travel was pleasant, the company was excellent, delicious meals fell into place with seemingly no effort, the hotel was just what we needed - complete with treadmills for fire-y me, and the workshop was very sweet with lovely participants and an encouraging instructor. And as often happens when I step out of my day-to-day life, I was once again overwhelmed with the message to Slow Down.

Slow Down was the message of both trips to Squam and every retreat I've attended, so I wasn't too surprised when it started showing up on the pages of my journal over the weekend. I'm all about the synchronicity, so on Saturday night I was happy to run across a whole section of the instructor's class packet titled "Slowing Down" from an Eknath Easwaran book. Here's some inspiration in case this is a subject that resonates with you:

"People say that modern life has grown so complicated, so busy, so crowded that we have to hurry even to survive. We need not accept that idea. It is quite possible to live in the midst of a highly developed technological society and keep an easy, relaxed pace while doing a lot of hard work. We have a choice. We are not mere victims of our environment, and we don't have to go fast just because everybody else does and urges us to do it too."

Then I opened a book I'd purchased that afternoon, titled Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative. These days I'm a sucker for anything with the word Creative in it - I wonder why! Anyway, imagine my delight when I ran across this: "Take time to be bored. One time I heard a coworker say, 'When I get busy, I get stupid.' Ain't that the truth. Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing."

A big part of slowing down for me is simplifying. The amazing thing to me is how full I pack my life with things that are just there, but I don't love or enjoy. So here are a few things I'm considering and in some cases have already started doing to help me fill my life with all the beautiful and inspiring things that I seem to never have time for or that I've been having problems fitting well into my regularly-scheduled life:

1. I've moved all the unread back issues of The Sun into the bathroom for brief moments of captive audience inspiration - I've already finished one issue and am making great progress in another. I know! You didn't expect me to start my list with bathroom reading, did you? Keeping it real.
2. I've started journaling in the first ten minutes when I arrive at work and I'm not yet on the clock. This is a great way to ease into the day at a slower, steady pace.
3. I'm making sure I take a real lunch break, so I can fill my emotional well as well as my stomach. I've got a stack of fun things to look at if I'm eating alone and sitting in the courtyard is an all-senses treat. I'm also blessed with wonderful friends and appreciate a visit with them.
4. I think I'm going to start alternating yoga class and meditation group instead of trying to do both each week, which is a strain on my evening time at home and my budget as a soon-to-be graduate student (mainly because I like to get take-out after the meditation group). Both are offered on Wednesday nights and I think alternating between the two mid-week will be delightful.
5. Trying to include something from our farm CSA in our dinner each evening. Today I made a marinade for the swordfish with the cilantro, which I normally forget to use, and will cook up some green beans and rainbow carrots. Yum!

So you can see that I'm just trying to more easily incorporate things I love, but which often get pushed to the side, in a more intentional way into my everyday world. I'll keep you posted on how it goes...

university ginkos

Sunday, July 7, 2013

creative expression inspiration adventure

beautiful chard

I'm getting really excited to start the Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life program next month! It's definitely making me more mindful about what inspires me creatively. Here are a few things that I want to be sure to keep in mind as inspiration once the program begins and thought I'd share them here, too:

- Pina Bausch. My dear brother gave me the gorgeous Criterion Collection set of the Wim Wenders documentary and it knocked me out. Turns out Bausch had choreographed the dance sequences in the Almodovar movie Talk to Her that had blown me away years ago. Wow.

- Velo Theatre. I had the incredible good fortune to see this amazing French object theater troupe perform "And Then He Ate Me" at the puppet festival a couple of weekends ago. Again, wow. I was stunned into silence after the performance, which took place in an enormous tent that had been installed in the library's Grand Reading Room, totally and completely transforming the space into a place of magic. I love how the piece blends the exploration of archetypes and myth with theater. Simply amazing.

- Nox. I'm just now dipping my toe into this book that a dear friend loaned to me way too long ago. As fate would have it, I think I'm dipping in at just the right time... Images here.

- The Healing Spirit of Haiku. Dr. Rowland recommended this book in my phone interview for the program. It's organized almost as a conversation between two poets, one of whom, Joel Weishaus, is a poet in residence at Pacifica. I find it very delightful and inspiring, in part because of the beautiful illustrations by Arthur Okamura, in part because of the book's balance of structure and freedom, and in part because of the deep, simply expressed spirituality.

- Wayne White. We finally watched Beauty is Embarrassing last night - it's streaming these days on Netflix, which made it very easy for us and I'm hoping easy for you. I love so much about this guy and his work - the struggle between the light and dark really came through for me last night. Plus, I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for the F-word.