Recharging the Creative Self.
I lower a metaphorical bucket into my inner creative well, thirsty and expectant.
I’m half-distracted by my to-do list, by this strange dream I had last night, by the nagging feeling that I need to check the balance in my bank account. As the ropes pull through my fists, I’m staring away from the bucket, out into the expanse of all my wandering thoughts. I don’t notice gravity’s grasp as the bucket continues to descend. I don’t notice that this morning it’s taking longer than usual.
I don’t notice the lack of buoyancy until I hear it. The clunk, as it hits bottom at the base of a dried up well.
What do you do when the water’s run out? What do you do when the bucket pulls up air?
When I feel empty, I stop and take stock. I see it as a swift reminder from my internal muse that it’s time to tend the well. It’s time to retrace my route to the source and to lie down, like we’ve been doing since Babylon, along the proverbial water’s creative edge.
Exploring what invigorates our muse is as important an undertaking as the invigoration itself. I’ve found that I’m often recharged by things that don’t directly relate to my creativity or to the particular project I’m in the process of completing. I’m recharged by things that relate to my subconscious — that fertile ground from which all fruitful harvests spring.
So the question I’m really asking as I stare at the bottom of my well is,
“How can I help my subconscious unfurl?”
To inspire the unfurling, I like to dip into my senses. I consider there to be six of them: sight, sound, taste, touch, scent and an intuition/instinct hybrid. I like to pull each sense into a simpler place, reducing overstimulation, and settle into the cradle of raw, basic experience. I’ve chosen three of these senses to illustrate examples below:
What have you been looking at lately?
I spend a fair amount of time staring at the flashing pixels of a computer screen. When I’m seeking more well-water, I like to find something very simple and very delicious to stare at.
One of my favorite choices is a brightly colored curtain. Even better if it’s warm enough to crack a window. I find a cozy spot nearby, nestle myself down with some tea or a beer, and I watch the wind play with the fabric.
I watch the light illuminate the color. I don’t mentally pick it apart or run away with new ideas for a film project. I just watch and let the visuals wash over me in the same way rain does — without pretense.
It’s necessary to remember our bodies. I’m inclined towards dance, but sometimes I want even less. I want to extricate the extras. I want to be guided by my hands, my feet and my breath. This can be a barefoot walk with a smooth stone in my palm.
This can be the gentle kneading of dough in a kitchen. This can be lying on my back in the grass with my toes pressed into the bark of a tree. Whatever reminds me of the connection between my head and my feet. Whatever helps me sink into the honest impression of skin.
This particular unfurling activity is really a bridge between all the senses, guided by the intuitive and instinctual part of the self. It’s very easy.
I take a walk without a destination. I let myself tune into what’s right in front of me, and I make directional choices based on what draws me at each juncture.
Maybe it’s the roses across the street in front of that purple house. Maybe it’s the steeple in the distance I just noticed because bells chimed to mark the hour. Maybe it’s the quiet internal pull of my invisible self — my sixth sense of the world — that, for whatever reason, wants me to turn left.
It is easy to forget to replenish the source of our vitality. It is easy to assume we should keep our nose to the grindstone, and when things get tougher, we should be tougher. We should move faster, work harder, push with more force into that which we are creating. But I believe the opposite is also important.
Sometimes a block is a signal that our well has gone dry. And that the subtle, soft work of the subconscious, however counterproductive it may feel to the Western mind, is mighty and deeply rewarding.
I’m inspired today by what supports me to soften into the deeper layers of my creativity. I’m asking myself, where does the source of the water originate, and what does it take to get back to the source?
Jocelyn Edelstein is a writer, filmmaker and choreographer who believes that stories activate the human code of empathy and voice our animal truths. She has been previously published in three Best Women’s Travel Writing anthologies, Conscious Dancer Magazine, 3Elements Review, Commonline Journal, The Doctor’s Review and The Huffington Post, and she has written adventure copy for Hip Camp and thegorge.com. When Jocelyn isn’t writing, she’s making documentaries in Brazil and teaching dance in the Pacific Northwest. Her film work can be found at urbanbodyproject.com and her writing can be read at her blog.