In Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist’s Way, I find a compelling chapter that covers the importance of recovering a sense of self-protection when it comes to one’s creative potential. This protection is against the blocks that each artist employs to pinch the flow of creativity. It’s as if once we have really gotten going, it’s the natural order of things to try to squelch it. To sabotage the wide range of possibilities that exists within each of us.
The various methods of blocking we employ range from food abuse, sex abuse, liquor or drug abuse, distracting ourselves with busyness – and other addictions in general.
Why is it that we do this pinching off of creative flow on purpose?
It’s plain and simple fear.
It’s as if the hunger for the high that comes from the wave we ride is too much to handle.
Or, perhaps it’s that the small snapshot of hope that this life is extraordinary is dampened by the reality that life is hard. We reach dramatically for the high only knowing that the high is really just outside our grasp and even if we push ourselves to reach even higher, we will never truly grasp the golden egg. Not really. It’s there within reach, but something always forces us back down to earth and we must start over again.
And that is exhausting.
So, after time, perhaps we reach less fervently.
We barely extend the arm and we still climb, but we don’t climb as high. For then, the drop is less painful.
And then one day, we look up and once again we wish and hope that we were wrong.
And, we try again. And we push ourselves to go to heights we never reached before and then, we fall. Again. And, we’re not sure why we tried again in the first place.
Did we forgot what the fall would feel like? The disappointment. The disgust. The fear of failure. All over again. The cycle. Again.
Perhaps it is a matter of reaching this time for some help.
To not climb on our own. To rely on a circle of like minding individuals who can cheer us on and remind us of our full potential. To not isolate ourselves in our art. But to reach for other artists, in whatever discipline that art form yields. And to listen to their stories, their motivations, their hopes.
Where are these people? They can be found at (perhaps) an Artist’s Way Group near you. Search for it on the internet- you’d be surprised. I found one and I am headed there later today. I have only attended one session back on a cold February night at a local library when a storm was brewing. Many made it that night, despite the horrible ice and snow crusted road conditions. And we spoke, each one of us, about what our creativity outlets were and how are creativity flowed. And, it was a marvelous evening. The memory of it dances around my mind as one of the most delightful times I have spent with other human company. Tonight, we will discuss what makes for Authentic Creativity- and the focus is on Julia Cameron’s book- week 10 (chapter 10).
Cameron shares in in this chapter:
“The choice to block is a creative U-Turn. We turn back on ourselves. Like water forced to a standstill, we turn stagnant. The self-honesty lurking in us all always knows when we choose against our greater good. It marks a little jot on our spiritual blackboard: “Did it again.”. And then: “It takes grace and courage to admit and surrender our blocking devices.” And also: “As we become aware of our blocking devices – food, busyness, alcohol, sex, other drugs- we can feel our U-turn as we make them. The blocks no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try – perhaps slowly at first and erratically – to ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with and worth with.”
As I consider the years and years of wasted time. Finding distractions. Not following through. Reaching but not grasping. Shutting off the flow. Dulling the ache with food and binge TV watching. Putting off creativity. I realize how much truth lies in Cameron’s words. And how marvelous it is that she wrote this book to reach the many who would pick up the book in an effort to reach deep inside and find the creative well that exists within each one of us, and tap it.
So grateful for these moments of discovery and awareness – and hope.