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Thoughts on Creativity — Newsletter #36
A'musings #5


by The Creative Edge Board of Directors:
  • Marlie Avant
  • Shanja Kirstann
  • Donald Mathews
  • Kyla McCollam
  • Barbara Rose Shuler
  • Illia Thompson
  • Patty Waldin
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    Marlie Avant:

    [Marlie Avant]

    I could muse right now that I am struggling with writer's block and slip into a sense of fear and frustration that I will never be able to meet Don's deadline and certainly never have anything worthwhile to say. But, my heart is at peace and so instead I allow this moment to simply be what it is...quiet and with very few words. I imagine I am cultivating a grateful heart which is at peace with whatever is and so sits content gazing upon an almost blank screen...feeling so blessed to be a part of all that exquisitely unfolds in its own time.

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    Shanja Kirstann:

    [Shanja Kirstann]

    Today, as I sit quietly on my back porch in the sun and reflect on the role that creativity has played in my life, I am flooded with images and memories: Trudging through snowdrifts with my camera to capture the single water drop dangling from the solitary icicle. Painting landscapes on the rocky shores of Maine. Dancing with streaming colored scarves to classical music under the Redwoods. Releasing anger and tenderness through clay, sadness through color, confusion through writing. Grief poems pouring through the pen upon seeing a deer struck by a racing auto on the Oakland Freeway. Tears of joy while singing in morning meditations.

    The images go on, as I recall orchestrating spaces for others to connect to their creative spirit: Vision-questing in the wilderness, chanting and drumming in the sweatlodge, ecstatic dancing under the full moon around the blazing fire, ritual theater, magical pilgrimages, and creative soulwork circles.

    All my life, this call to the creative life has been a persistent passion. I have witnessed myself and others being transformed by the healing powers of beauty, I have experienced the amazing unfoldment of soul through creative images. But my attention is drawn to something much more subtle here—and that is a taste of pure Beingness, which is at the heart of every creative act.

    What I have learned about the time I've spent in the creative process has taught me about the deeper mysteries of life, about trusting and surrendering to the natural dance of yin and yang, about giving birth to a new form from within the Formless—and then moving back into the Formless again to await the next new spark of life.

    Playful, yet holding reverence for the sacred process, these experiences take me to the core of myself, to my deep Being—and the walls of separation dissolve and I am one with all the world. How it happens, I do not know. That is the Mystery—the one that calls to me again and again to live the surrendered life. I simply have to say yes to this call, to the creative impulse that breathes through Life—and I am Home. No matter the weather. Always Home.

    "The way to do is to be" Tao te Ching

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    Donald Mathews:

    [Donald Mathews]

    In a recent dream, I head out to an open road leading off to the distant hills. The road is a main thoroughfare. I am carrying only a book I am reading. When I reach the road, I stick out my thumb to catch a ride. I am excited about the possibilities!

    You may recall these similar themes from recent A'musings of mine: The pause that refreshes. The purpose of life is the pleasure of life itself. Change is in the air. Letting go of old ways. Now this dream! The dream has the same theme of change I have been following for the last several years! Only now action has been initiated! It is exciting and frightening at the same time!

    Several months ago, my heart seemed to stop providing blood and I momentarily passed out. Many tests only affirmed my good health and now I have a recorder implanted in my chest to catch the mysterious process should it occur again. I feel great and only miss driving myself when I want to go somewhere. Sometimes it takes such an experience to motivate change!

    The Universe acts in strange ways! Downsizing and simplifying are often painful and disruptive as we cling to old ways and responsibilities. Clearly in our society many are struggling with the changes brought about by recent world events. Yet, life often drops us into the most creative possibilities as old ties are broken for us. How easily I get caught up in what I call the logistics of life—the many responsibilities of family and work. These are important if we are to accomplish something in life. However, there are times to leave it all behind and hit the open road. I believe this is where I am being lead in this later life stage!

    It is time for me to "pass the lead" to others with Creative Edge, The Labyrinth Project and other responsibilities. It doesn't mean I quit—just leave the driving to someone else!

    The most important gift of creative artistry is to live life with pleasure in this open road manner, taking full advantage of the mysterious vehicles stopping for us! Between rides, there is the wonder of many stories shared in the great books.

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    Kyla McCollam:

    [Kyla McCollam]

    A shadowy, masculine character in my dream says to meā "You're trying to be funny—that comes later." As I "try" to comprehend this message from my soul, I realize that I have a need to make others laugh and appreciate me, and I am aware that this requires effort and is not always successful. So, the idea arises that I could ease up and allow for the growth and development, accept this assurance that, later, more humor will be available. A certain amount of knowing exists about this potential, this promise from my unconscious.

    To be truly funny is outrageous, unruly, fun, on the edge of truth, stimulating and revealing of polarities of dark and light—striking a deep chord of humanity. Since the dream—I may not be funnier, yet I have found some humor in "trying situations" and had some hilarious times. So far, it seems like I'm more the recipient or finder of humor than the server of it.

    The Brugh Joy weekend highlighted for me the service of witnessing another's process as my own. Turning disgust into a delicately tuned compassionate humor for situations that before festered with pain and suffering. I have had reservations about my passivity and am finding acceptance for this part of my nature. I am inviting healing presence, finding how I am served by those experiences which seem to thwart and frustrate—as honing the maturation of my heart into states of innate harmony and the unconditional acceptance.

    There is such satisfaction in the on-the-spot creation of insightful humor that draws out the laughter and nurtures a happier heart. Communication and healing result when pain and pressure succumb to the funny side which breaks the ice, frees the personality of constraints, eases facing our truth responsibly, and elevates the mood for uplifting and creative changes.

    With the realization that to allow this shadowy, masculine energy to emerge will be effortless—I must trust and let go of outcomes and be more receptive to the pleasure and appreciation for the release of laughter, joy and knowing. Magic and mystery are evoked when something "hits the mark" and strikes as funny. A creative comeback causes an eruption which guides and consoles. Such service I welcome as valuable, spontaneous and free. It may be latent—I'm looking forward to funnier and later.

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    Barbara Rose Shuler:

    [Barbara Rose Shuler]

    Recently, I woke from a dream that made me laugh. It seemed to represent the wonderfully fecund chaos that artists often dwell in. Here it is:

    The Queen and her family invited some dangerously odd artists and their friends, including me, to breakfast. We were to meet the royals in a place of exquisite nature on a weather-perfect day. But plans evidently changed as the Queen instead arrived with her entourage at the artists' retreat, high up a moist, chilly mountainside in the woods where canvases extended way beyond their easels in a culture of intentional madness. Two famous painters lived here. One man was cerebral and philosophical, given to pontificating with impossible metaphors about the metaphysics of artistic expression. The other, wild and flamboyant, grasped at anything with color to create with, including my clothing which he tore off my body and swiftly turned it into a dramatic art piece. I thereupon took my place, naked, in a bathtub of water where I remained on display as if part of breakfast entertainment. The Queen observed all this in the manner of one strolling through a museum exhibit that charmed her. I thought this peculiar since very little of the scene or the art appealed to me, except for a small self-portrait of the philosopher, his face etched into a painting of the mountainside and sky.

    The image of the Queen placidly appreciating the madness around her, as if it were normal, reminds me of the way many of us view art in front of us: thoughtfully and respectfully, heedless of the fact that it may have been created in crucibles of chaos as odd as the one on the mountainside. It also struck me that the artistic temperament is often divided into the thinker, the wild creator and the part that feels naked and vulnerable but also needs to be Seen. And, then all of this artistic ferment somehow bows to the beauty of nature so transparent in the philosopher painter's portrait.

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    Illia Thompson:

    [Illia Thompson]

    Cherishing and encouraging artistic endeavors, Donald Mathews graciously offers of his time, place and energy, to support these undefinable processes that enliven the spirit.

    One Saturday morning, over a decade ago, I arrive at Donald's home, shyly bringing a recently crafted poem. A dozen or so people meet in a circle, speak their names, share current thoughts before sitting in communal silence, after which Donald reads a randomly selected quote from Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching which somehow always "fits" the current mood. We then have the opportunity to express our gleanings from the quiet. Next a social break, followed by time to share what creative work we have chosen to bring.

    The show begins, as rich as any offering, as varied as the colors in a prism. Paintings and Poetry, Collages and Ceramics, The Ancient Art of Placement and the New Art of Photo Shop. Carvings and Quiltings. Story Telling and Readings from Ongoing Opuses. Music and Dance. Fantasy and Fables. Any of these, and more, may appear on the playbill. In this space, the critics step outside and appreciation enters. The cast of players in each production changes, yet each morning is worthy of a standing ovation.

    My initial wavering voice now speaks poetry easily. My paintings debut on Saturday mornings, receive courage to enter shows to be more widely viewed. Invigorated by witnessing other's art, I am enhanced.

    My works hang on the walls of my children's homes (their choice!). And a painting that came just after 9/11, titled Heritage, decorates the cover of the invitation for my grandson's April Bar Mitzvah. This abstract brightly burning menorah symbolizes the light that radiates from all that is sacred. I include monthly meetings at The Creative Edge in that category, truly enlightening.

    Thank you, Donald, and all who choose to share in the widest way. Long live the Saturday Salon (The Creative Arts Fellowship), a place of safety, serenity, and in times of need, solace.

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    Patty Waldin:

    [Patty Waldin]

    "Escaping from Creative Limbo"

    An unfulfilled commitment... a looming deadline... and my own foul mood. No inspiration... no insight to draw upon... priorities tangled in disarray—

    What is stopping this unfocused "i" from becoming the Creative I ?

    Lifting my attention up and out, I witness how my peevish self-nagging has fruitlessly sown and harvested its own confusions...

    Vision clearing, I awaken to sunlight through newly unfurled birch leaves, inches beyond my open window. A chestnut-backed chickadee settles onto the feeder. Eyeing me, he pertly snatches seeds and flits away... Three juncos now balance upon the still swaying feeder. They scatter much seed before shelling their selections... Though only a screen separates us, neither my presence nor the hum of my computer seems to bother them. Are they innocently oblivious? Or merely self-confidant? Is there a lesson here?

    What a mystery—this rescuing of awareness from yet another descent into a bog of creative limbo. I am reminded that my ego, taskmaster that it is, does not belong in my driver's seat, nor does it qualify as navigator. Only when centered within stillness can I rediscover my bridge to the illusive high road of lyrical palettes, dancing brushstrokes, phrases that evoke realities, and melodies that resonate on Soul's level...

    Abandoning myself to creative processes can feel a lot like stepping through Alice's Looking Glass, or falling down the Rabbit Hole. Somehow logic can turn back upon itself, and unexpected sequences can move me into responses beyond my comfort zone. Jarring and out of sync as it is, yet it can also be deliciously and timelessly wonder-filled.

    When bearing witness to one another's creative process within the safe circles of "CREATIVE EDGE: The Way of the Arts," we are sharing adventures beyond our bridges, and validating maps of the ever shifting, ever evolving wilderness of the Muses' domain.

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