“Art is a spiritual transaction.”
-Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way
About 20 years ago, a book came on the market called The Artist’s Way. Many of my friends over the years told me I really needed to read it and submit myself to Julia Cameron’s ‘course in discovering and recovering your creative self’. That bold claim is made on the cover of the book. I bought it once, intending to work through it. Like many books I’ve purchased, I started it but quickly dropped it aside when life got in the way. Every time I hear someone mention it, I always wish I had gone through it at least once but never enough to actually submit myself to it. But I happened to hear on January 2 that the East Baton Rouge Parish Library was starting the 12-week workshop in late January.
I mentioned last week that I see myself in a new life right now. The old one is gone. The new one has yet to begin. I want to create something special. One of my friends reassured me that I’ve re-invented myself many times, and I can do it again. I rather like re-inventing myself. I’m sure there is comfort in consistency and stability, but I’ve never been able to get there. Many of my friends here are retiring in the next few years from the jobs that they began right after high school. They’ve put in enough time, and they get to reap the benefits. I have to say I’m jealous because I still have another 10-12 year career ahead of me. In fact, I was shocked when so many people I knew were talking about retirement.
In other places, people move around more and don’t retire so young. I’ve asked myself if I wish I’d stayed and had this long retirement phase ahead of me. Absolutely I wish that I could do what I want to in the 4 or 5 years and stop with the working girls’ grind. But then I think of what I did with my life. Could I see myself staying in one place for all of that time? Would I be the person that I am now? And would I like her? I’ll never know the answers to those questions, but I know that I would not like to lose the adventure of moving to Seattle without knowing a soul. I’d hate to know that I never walked on icebergs in Lake Michigan in the early spring. I’d be very sad to have missed all of those early morning bike rides in Cades Cove. No, I lived the life that I wanted. As a young teenage girl here in South Louisiana, I dreamed of living in many different places. I always had wanderlust, and, like the powerful woman that I am, I created that for myself. Sometimes it feels like it just happened to me, but I know that I created it. My spirit felt free enough to fly and land lightly on many different shores. And I’m the better for it.
So I stand here on the precipice of another grand adventure. I could see it as the end of my travels and coming home, but I don’t know if I could tolerate that vision. I’m not ready to close it down. I don’t yet know what I’m ready to create here. And I’m not all that anxious to find out. I know that creation is a process, and, if I try to rush it or control it, it will be less than it could be. So, I’ll be patient to see the outcome. But, I cannot be patient for the process. I love the process of creation. There are times when I write when I am cognizant that I am not writing anything. The words are flowing through me. There is something beneath the blood and bone that is so much more powerful than what I see on the outside. I never really saw myself as creative until I started writing this blog, but now I see that I was creative all along. Creating a life … creating relationships … creating love … creating adventure … creating a portfolio of work … creating my own brand of spirituality …. all of these come from an internal source. And I love the process of letting it surface.
I knew I had to do The Artist’s Way. I think I knew all along that when the time was right, it would command I do it. And I believe that time is here. I went to the introductory session last night, and the room was packed. We were briefed on the premise of the workshop. It is an exploration of our own spirituality and our relationship with our soul. It is not about art… in the sense of a finished product. Our leader Ann told us that about 1/3 of our group would not return next week because that journey inward was not what they had in mind. And that’s okay, too. Just like me in times past, the timing is not right. The session lasted about 45 minutes, and when I turned around to leave, four women with familiar faces were looking at me from different spots in the room. It is the first time I’ve run into anyone I know here in Baton Rouge. One woman I had met in yoga, another I met at a Meetup Group, and the other one is a dear friend who brought her daughter. It felt surreal to me to be surrounded by so many familiar faces unexpectedly.
After exchanging names again, we sat down to chat excitedly about what we were all trying to create in our lives and what brought us there to that conference room on a Thursday night. We ended up talking for over an hour and a half. We are all embarking on this journey of introspection to discover who we are so that we bring focused energy to our careers and in our relationships. I left feeling supported and very blessed. That moment when I turned around and saw those faces is burned into my heart. The spark of hope was like a promise from God that there is life here for me. And now I feel patient. For I know that the process has begun. Whatever I will create here will become a part of my grand adventure. Spirit is waiting to blow life into it. And I am – gratefully – an empty vessel once again. I can’t wait to write it.
“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.”
– Piet Mondrian