Saturday, September 3, 2016

Space to Create

I sit in front of an empty page, pen in hand, and my mind wanders. To lists, to ideas unrelated, to curiosity that can take me down a wormhole if I give in to the screen. The screen. It beckons. I walk by my phone on the counter and my interest is momentarily piqued. "Should I just check it quickly?" Or I find a pause between one task and the next, and I wonder, "should I just check into my email to see what's come in?" No, Sarah. you should not. It will be there later. 

I have noticed when I give myself (my mind) space to think, to dream, to receive and to write, the space fills. With poetry, and lyrics and stanzas and essays. When I fill my space (my mind) with time in front of a screen, any screen, I feel my creativity zap. Just a little, then more, then the whole flame has been snuffed and the room (my mind, again) is dark. With grey matter, static noise, inconsequential fodder from time I'll never get back.

This time of year, I like to leave the window open. The cool night air blowing in on subtle breezes is one of the greatest conditions in which to sleep. The wind blows the curtain into a frenzied dance and the dust unsettles. I sit in meditation falling into a rhythm of breath, listening to the sound of crickets through the window. I brush my teeth slowly in the morning, my mind still a foggy passenger caught between dreaming and awake, and I stand in communion with the outside as the cool pours through the window and lifts me to wakening. The wind distracts me from my mortal ways, inviting me to a brief dance with the divine.

Leaving the windows open, leaving the phone and laptop on the counter, I am left with a wild, free feeling of possibility. What to do? I make space. With eyes closed, face turned to the sun while smiling: space. With deep inhales over a mug of hot tea: space. With staring out into the yard while I weed the garden: space. If I clear enough detritus and the creative forces recognize my readiness, they invade. They fill me. My mind becomes a frenzied Jackson Pollock-looking canvas filled with ideas, descriptors, rhythms and words. 

I am learning this creative work is give and take, hurry and wait. It comes and goes and I am a portal. When I sit, pen in hand, sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn't. I am training my mind to keep space available. Be ready. Be welcoming and patient and loving, sweeping the cobwebs and crumbs so it knows I am primed. 

"I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
- from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver


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