"Traveller there is no path, the path is made by walking"
I try to walk my talk. I strive to live a creative & self-expressive life, a life that gives me daily opportunities to be curious, to explore & discover, not only the natural environment and all its inspiring beauty & spectacle, but also the inner wilderness of my own creative potential.
I know that most of you reading this blog strive to do this too, and I know that most of you, like me, struggle.
It’s not easy, we are constantly pulled towards safety & comfort; towards the familiar & the certain; towards all the things we do really, really well. It’s hard to resist, isn’t it? Who doesn't want to choose guaranteed success over potential ruin? Safety & comfort over ridicule & flat-on-your-face-ness peril?
Despite this, creativity & self-expression have a central place in my life, just like sunshine & water – to me life without them is mediocre & bland. For this reason, I have become very conscious & vigilant so that I am prepared for everything that emerges during this often mysterious process.
1. Be prepared to not know the way – the creative process is generative, that means that each step you take generates a whole set of potential unknowns, offering a selection of new paths. The thing is, you can’t know what these are going to be until you have taken a step.
Generative means that you are walking and you are making the path at the same time. You have to let it emerge, observe it, and step into it with complete trust that it is going to take you to the place you want to go.
I’m not saying go out into the wilderness not knowing where you want to go, I am saying be prepared to walk along overgrown paths, rocky terrain, cliff edges or even machete yourself a new path because, to stay with the metaphor, nobody has explored this part of your wilderness before, so there is no one right way to get where you are going.
2. Be prepared to stay a while because the creative process requires us to dwell in uncertainty. Take plenty of water, a compass, your soft, self-inflating sleeping mat, whatever you need and camp out in the unknown. Creativity is in our DNA, the challenge is in letting go, waiting, allowing, and trusting.
3. Be prepared to do it badly, because more than anything the creative process requires that you work no matter what. Carve out time each day to write, sing, play the guitar, plan your business – whatever you are up to, make sure you do it because only by doing will you improve, grow & thrive as a creative force.
4. Be prepared to move away from people who do not support you because the creative process will make you feel both invincible & vulnerable. We need to be around people who are ok with us at our fiercest & most confident as well as at our weakest and most frightened.
As Julia Cameron puts it we need people around us who are OK for us to be ‘as big as we are and as small as we are, as competent and powerful as we are, and as terrified and as tiny as we sometimes feel…’.
So, surround yourself with people that inspire you to keep making your path as you walk it, who encourage you to stay put when you feel like packing up, who support you not only when you feel brave but also when you feel insecure; and, most importantly, surround yourself with people who strengthen your resolve to keep working & thriving every day.
May 2018 be a year for all of us to keep walking our unique, fulfilling, joyful & abundant creative paths...and one or two dirt paths too.