"Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." Anne Lamott
Given a choice, it's a no brainer. I want to live in the world of WOW NOW. I want to stride from peak to peak, to be effortlessly inspired, cheerful, full of seeing things for the first time and knowing my heart is full and I am present. I want to look out my kitchen window and always see the full rainbow that arced across the sky yesterday. I want everything to come easily. I want to write and paint effortlessly. Don't we all!
Entering the unknown of the blank page or canvas takes a lot of wandering in the wilderness. It takes a lot of practice to bring something out of nothing. It takes a lot of faith and a lot of work and given a choice, I want cut to the chase and start with inspiration. But when I start out knowing where I want to go and stick with that, I limit myself. I'm in the land of easy, of tried and true, not on the road to discovery.
We all have limiting beliefs. One of mine is that for most creative people art and writing come easily. I know this isn't really true, but there is this nagging belief; since it doesn't come easily to me, it means I'm not very good. And then Jack London appears. Thanks, Jack. The truth is I love the process of discovery, of not being so good and getting better. I'm so in love with those aha moments. The most important thing is to do a lot of work even if it's not very good work, because I know my work has gotten better. It takes a lot more time than any of us want to become competent in almost anything.
When I get bogged down on the creative path, I realize I am also way low on the gratitude scale. The more I feel grateful, the more willing I am to see the blank page as an opportunity for discovery rather than a stab in the dark.
Card by card, I will write on the back of each one a few words about people and events I'm grateful for.
There are very few whoopdeedoo wowzers in this box. The cards are appreciations of lunch with friends, a good movie or concert, finding something I've lost and found, good food, community, a productive time in my studio. Forty-seven little cards so far this year. I look at that little box and those little cards and know card by card I'll fill that box to overflowing in another couple of months. It helps me to pay attention to the smallest joys, joys that can be written about in a very few words.
Just as I expect too much of myself as a beginning artist, I sometimes forget to remember the power of gratitude. It all takes time and practice. As much as I've been working on this, sometimes I forget how easy gratitude is and how good it makes me feel. Perhaps a few words on little cards in a lovely box will work for you, too.
Baruch ata adonai...writing today's blog has been an exercise in patience. It has taken me hours. Because I haven't been writing, I'm rusty. I'm going to begin writing everyday for five minutes first thing in the morning. I used to do this and I want to begin again. I am grateful to myself for coming back to this piece over and over until I finished. Amen