Sunday, August 4, 2013

torn open adventure

lion rose

You that come to birth and bring the mysteries,
your voice-thunder makes us very happy.
Roar, lion of the heart,
and tear me open.

~Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks)

I had a great day yesterday, Sitting with the Sufis with dear Joe Z. We listened to a lot of poetry by Rumi and some by Hafiz, but this was the poem that most spoke to me. There are days that I feel like I'm being torn open against my will and days where it feels like the best form of liberation.

Rollo May touches on some of this in his Courage to Create that I quoted from last week. There's a whole section about the anxiety of creating that really rang true for me and interestingly mirrors the theme of tearing open in the reference to Prometheus whose punishment for giving fire to mankind was to have an eagle (the symbol of Zeus) feast upon his liver (considered then to be the seat of emotions rather than the heart) each day only to grow back to be eaten again the next:

"The experience of encounter also brings with it anxiety. I need not remind you, after our discussion of Giacometti's experience, of the 'fear and trembling' of artists and creative people in their moments of creative encounter. The myth of Prometheus is the classical expression of this anxiety. W.H. Auden once remarked that he always experiences anxiety when he writes poetry except when he is 'playing.' Playing may be defined as an encounter in which anxiety is temporarily bracketed. But in mature creativity, anxiety must be confronted if the artist (and the rest of us who benefit from his work later on) is to experience the joy in creative work."

"Creative people, as I see them, are distinguished by the fact that they can live with anxiety, even though a high price may be paid in terms of insecurity, sensitivity, and defenselessness for the gift of the 'divine madness,' to borrow the term used by the classical Greeks. They do not run away from non-being, but by encountering and wrestling with it, force it to produce being. They knock on silence for an answering music; they pursue meaninglessness until they can force it to mean."

I've often pondered the shift from my obsession with Finnegans Wake to Buddhism in 2004. They seem interlinked. I will admit that I'm no stranger to creative anxiety and I wonder if my creative exploration of the Wake has been on pause, because it does feel like a pause to me, albeit a long one, in order for me to learn the tools to help me ride the waves of anxiety so I can better enjoy the whole process. To hear the roar of the lion and feel "very happy." I feel like the meditation practice and its encouragement to stay with whatever is happening is what I've needed.

Before you get your hopes up, dear friends, I don't see the project continuing in pop-up book form. That obsession seems to have run its course, but I do have some other ideas that may also delight you?