I’ll ask forgiveness now if I don’t tie everything together into a neat Christmas bow by the end of this post…I’ve had too much good food, good wine and good company. Let’s call this post what it is…a little bit of this and that. Let’s file it under the Category of Celebrate while we’re at it. Why the hell not? Life’s too short…too hard…too brutal, to not celebrate every day. What am I celebrating tonight? Creativity…the cage…the company of others.
Let’s start with creativity. My father-in-law is in town tonight and we had dinner together…just he and I…as my husband had to work late. My father-in-law is an academic and also a creative…he writes books, from manifestos on the rise of greed to anecdotic short stories. So our conversation spanned everything from how the political machine of Ancient Egypt is still evident in modern American politics to the immense joy that our cats bring us. During the course of dinner we discovered that we have both been watching the same documentary on the band, the Eagles (now on Netflix). This invariably turned to a discussion on creativity. My father-in-law quoted Don Henley, singer and drummer for the Eagles, who says at some point in the documentary that all creativity comes from the dark side. Now, dark here does not mean evil. Dark means a place without light…a place hidden away from sight, perhaps purposefully, perhaps not…sometimes frightening, sometimes comforting. My father-in-law talked about how he wasn’t sure at first what Walsh meant by this but later determined that it meant creativity is motivated in us by those feelings that frighten us, even hurt us, that we hide away. Creativity is our solace. We are driven to it as a relief, as a balm. I haven’t reached that part in the documentary…I would’ve remembered such a statement…but it’s given me something to think about…the idea of creativity born from the dark and what dark lives in me.
Now to the cage. A dear friend sent me the following quote this morning…a quote from my mentor, Julia Cameron:
As an artist, so much of my life is determined by the size of my imagination. If I am making something big, and making it daily, I can perhaps live somewhere small. I can sit at a desk that faces a wall and tap words into space and my world is still large enough. I am more than my circumstances, more than the cage of my environment. There is a dignity inherent in making art, a filament of largesse and generosity, a connection to something better and brighter than myself. ‘You do not own me,’ I am able to say to the walls that enclose me. And yet, I must learn to love my walls.
My friend said that on different days this quote reminds her of different people, but today it reminded her of me. I can imagine the reasons why. I am always wandering to her desk in the office where we both work and bemoaning my “captivity.” The quote, and my friend, helped to remind me that what binds us, can often unleash the best in us, as well. Just as a busy schedule and deadlines…the constraint of time…make me more productive, even in my creativity, so the constraints of a “day job” and other obligations inspire me to make the art I do. And as this quote indicates, smallness of space or even time need not affect the largeness of our imagination, projects, and endeavors. It was a reminder that I am more than my circumstances, if I let myself be.
I will end with the company of others. What I am thinking of specifically are the others who share in my pain and outrage at the events in the world around us. Most recently I mentioned the murder of 140 people in Pakistan, most of them children and teenagers, which occurred yesterday. I was grateful then to find in my WordPress “Reader” (a feed of all the blogs I follow) a fellow blogger expressing her outrage, better than I ever could have, especially as she is an Indian woman who was taught as a girl to hate Pakistani people. I would like to share Damyanti’s post here. As a blogger, I am grateful to be in her company.