It takes a special energy, over and above one’s creative potential, a special audacity or subversiveness, to strike out in a new direction once one is settled. It is a gamble as all creative projects must be, for the new direction may not turn out to be productive at all. ― Oliver Sacks, The River of Consciousness
Although it would be nice to settle and enjoy the fruits of my creative labours in May, including establishing a daily writing practice that I have continued, I feel compelled again to “strike out in a new direction” as Oliver Sacks writes. Like my daughter in the above pic at a recent river excursion, it’s time to take another leap.
I love the word audacity. The Latin root is audacis – boldness.
Bold, daring, and courageous are the words used to describe the root word.
The words “foolhardy” and “rash” come later in the etymology. I wonder who has drawn that line when being bold, daring, and courageous become a fool’s effort?
A week ago, when the month of May came to a close, my mayBE project ended.
For every journey, we often begin with a destination in mind and a map of how to get there. On the more rare occasions, we just get up and go with a rough outline of the direction where we want to head with a small backpack.
MayBE was an audacious journey there was no destination or map. All I knew is that I wanted to pay closer attention and in doing so, follow any creative impulse.
I loved using the word MayBE.
It became a mantra in our house which annoyed some members of the family.
But the best part of it all for me was the commitment I made to myself. My commitment to create every day. I was less harsh on myself this time around when I couldn’t both paint and write. I committed to the writing and was able to write every damn day which was huge for me. I loved documenting what I was doing and reflecting on how this opened up doors of possibility.
I am a lover of the unanswered and open-ended question. The dot-dot-dot…
(Even though that is a huge writing pet peeve for some.) With the biggest of bear hugs, I embraced the fantastical whims of my imagination – something that I had been chastised for in my childhood. (I made up a lot of stories.) I dove into the unknown and was content with the unsolvable mystery.
I left myself open to inspiration daily: every conversation, every unidentifiable and familiar sound from nature and from my neighbourhood; every discernible colour of the sky and sea; every snapshot of the mundane; and every snippet of everything I could read. All of these were both seeds and compost and fertilizer. Everything was a jumping off point, a start of a thought, a spark that set my wonder ablaze.
The best side effect of this project that I did to nourish my creative life was that my children bore witness and it was fodder for their own creations. I wondered out loud a lot while sitting and writing. I had many books on my table from different disciplines – poetry, botany, art, neuroscience, physics, plotless fiction, reference, picture books, nature writing.
My intention for mayBE was to start and see where it would lead, to embody the spirit of “maybe.” Where would another month of mayBE and intentional creation lead? I didn’t know. My parameters were simple yet open: a daily commitment of a single creative habit. My writing evolved through the month and so did my paintings. I started to live the questions each day which would lead to inspiration for the following day.
At the very least, my gaze was filtered through the lenses of appreciation and curiosity – often alternating throughout the day. Choosing to lean into beauty and/or optimism over and over again was uncomfortable in the beginning but over the course of the month, it became my default – How could I not see the beauty?There is beauty even in conflict and hurt and disagreeable situations. It is an opportunity to take responsibility, to reflect, and to re-evaluate our own assumptions. It is an opportunity to mend and do better.
I talked about the theme of “Balance” in one of my mayBE prompts. I talked about homeostasis. As soon as I finished May, my body screamed, “Hello! Remember me!?!” And so did the beach and the rivers. And community projects. And the kids. As if on cue, the kids initiated new projects which inspired me to write some interesting lesson blocks to support their hunger for new stories.
We spent a lot of time by the river and at the beach. (Exhale.)
Instead of writing this closing post to publish on June 1, I promptly started a new training program, worked on our #notmyplastic community project, planned a beautiful rite of passage ceremony for my daughter who turned fourteen this past week, and started a book club for two with my twenty-one year old.
The book club topic that came up last week was BODY.
(Notice my audacious caps and bold letters.)
We had one of the most honest conversations I have ever had about body image, body love/hate, body inheritance, body colour and form, and body aging. It inspired other conversations with other women that prompted a further examination into how we all see each other and how vulnerable we become when we talk about our bodies.
Over the course of the month, I will share my thoughts on the body and how we discuss this with our daughters and our son and share my own efforts to stay active and how it has changed through the years. More journal prompts, more drawings (when necessary), more unfiltered photos, and fun activity prompts to move more.
How do we see and feel our body? Can we reduce it to a machine or a vehicle carrying the true essence of ourselves? Where does it hurt? How does it hurt? Where are the visible and invisible wounds? How do we heal?
The first prompt starts tomorrow – Body as a Poem.”