Creativity in Service of Me and We
How is the Fellowship going? asks a friend during a long walk last week. It’s great, I say. It’s been a scaffolding of an intention; a reminder to be asking myself what is the relationship between creativity and healing. It’s research and the work is more holding the questions than making more work, I answer.
We were walking in the same woods that back in October I had sat in and listened to what was germinating inside me, in response to what this Fellowship was presenting. Back then I imagined my Fellowship project as being my Creativity + Courage™ curriculum written for easy distribution, perhaps as a book. But as I sat in the woods and watched the light reflecting on the lake I felt another project call my attention. The project was me. The action was rekindling my attention to my creative intuition.
I felt feelings, overwhelm and grace. A part of myself felt welcome and seen, like a child finally winning a mothers love. This part of me asked for freedom for exploration and the space for being lost.
Then, sitting in the woods I re-imagined my “curriculum book” project to be a book of ‘Good Directions’ starting with the first direction: Get Lost. I would follow this good direction and get lost and look for the wayfinding signs to direct my path.
Friday’s became ‘Feel-Good-Friday’ which translated into small excursions without plans, this way I could test internal navigation systems. They were chunks of time for me, sliced away from the larger pie of creating for others. A pie I am skilled at whipping from scratch. A pie I have become known for. In fact I am first place blue ribbon pie winner—true fact.
One of these Friday’s I felt to call this friend (the one I was walking with this week), as I had not seen her in a long while. I visited her gallery that moment, as I had nothing other planned, only wandering was on the list. I arrived in the right moment to offer her support she didn’t know she needed. Later she asked me if by chance I would like to make a book, as she was having an exhibit of artist books coming up. Funny, I thought, I am making a book of ‘Good Directions’ starting with ‘Getting Lost’ which led me here to this opportunity.
The matrix sessions with Owyn and Damian encouraged my opening to a non-project of sorts in the fellowship. They encouraged letting go of what may be a performance of ‘Doing Good’, of pushing through because I said I would (and I am that responsible person who follows through on her word). They encouraged trusting that the project was me. The sessions revealed things I knew, but hadn’t known, like I needed the support and permissioning to explore my creativity in service of me. My Creativity + Courage™ curriculum had been developed in 2011 from my studio practice and had always been in service of healing. But along the way my practice became about serving others and sacrificing me. Guided by a belief of undeserving, a wound at the root.
Fast forward to now, March 2018. I meet my friend for this walk, to talk about her recent tragedy. She has brought me the remaining books from the exhibit. The Book of Good Directions that I created had the form of a notepad for writing to-do’s, with my directions printed on the bottom of the pages. Our walk had taken too long, and I had a Succurro fellowship group session happening then. So I sat in my car in the woods and was paired with a fellow artist to work on an exercise of ‘Responsibility’. Responsibility is an idea and feeling I’ve struggled with, oftentimes taking too much responsibility which leans further into irresponsibiity.
The artist I am paired with had shared a similar research question in her work, around being lost, and it’s relationship to vulnerability. I needed something to write on, and realized all I had were my ‘Good Direction’ books. The books that were started here in the woods with Succurro. These books that didn’t exist before, but now were here and just what I needed in this moment.
I listened and wrote our understandings or misunderstandings of what responsibility meant, and what it meant to take responsibility for sharing our work with the world. When we finished our call, the light had fallen. I went to turn the ignition on, and the battery had I died. I found myself alone in the dark, exploring vulnerability. That night I was supposed to go to another event. I sat there thinking what is my responsibility to myself and my creativity.
I decided to to listen to the signs and when my car was ready I rerouted back home, to bed, so that in the morning I could show up for myself on the page. As I was making a new early morning routine to write about my train trip across the country. My train trip was a self-directed residency exploring being lost. A project made possible by my fellowship experience permissioning my creativity the space to explore and also be in service of me.
Someone I met on the train, a computer scientist, recently asked me, Are you your own research topic? Yes, I am (and so is he), as we are both exploring healing, creativity, and syncronicity. Which is why we met on the train. So it goes or here I go where the journey is the destination. I’m learning my truer responsibility, and it is that this me that wants my attention is the me that better serves the we when she’s been given her creativity.