January 2015

Donald Mathews:

Last year, the theme on my mind for A’musings was “change.” Lou and I had just moved to Forest Hill Senior Living in Pacific Grove. After a year, we now find our selves well-satisfied beneficiaries of that radical change. The continuing monthly Creative Arts Gatherings held here are also well attended without advertising.

This year, I find myself deeply involved with a different mode of creative expression than traditional painting, sculpting or poetry. As editor of the monthly Forest Hill News, I am responsible for a monthly newsletter and coordination of a staff of eight writers, interviewers, and proofreaders. However, since many residents of Forest Hill are not digitally literate, layout and assembly of each newsletter on the computer is my most important personal task. (I find Microsoft Office’s Word and Adobe Photoshop Elements are amazing tools for this on my iMac.) In addition, surfacing stories from both residents and staff members is also a major priority with me—their biographies are a primary focus for the newsletter.

What makes these tasks enjoyable is that I approach this work in the same manner as I would any other art project. Intuition—the act of knowing without the use of rational processes—is a key part of this process. Artists have always called this other mysterious source for inspiration, their Muse. Many times, in what seems to be a conscious rational act during the creative process, it is really a fast moving iteration between conscious rational choice and inspired internal guidance from the unconscious or the Muse. It feels like someone else is helping us accomplish our creative task providing inspiration. Thus personal stress is relieved!

For example, during an interview, as I interact with a person, new questions pop into my head or certain bits of our dialog catch my attention to explore. I generally trust this guidance from my interview Muse. Trusting the process without fear, I stay present and open in the moment of creative listening. Listening both outside in our conversation and internally, for that other input. I listen for questions to pose that come to my mind from the unconscious as we talk. I let these thoughts help guide our discussion while I make a few notes. Later, the notes guide my writing into rational sentences with the use of the mother of all muses, Memory—memories from the interview. Thus, with this internal support from my Muses, I can relax and enjoy each conversation.

This experience reinforces my belief in the creative process as an excellent basis for a rich, healthy, and joyous way of life. It is mainly an iterative process we all have buried deep in the psyche and everyone can learn to use it for everyday life. It is good for much more than artistic expression! It is a process that must be cultivated to use without fear. Most importantly, it is limitless—the more we use it, the more we have!