The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Ward Elliot Hour
Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius. ~Pietro Aretino
The other day I found myself longing for spring. Only three days into winter, with snow still on the ground from that giant solstice snow storm, and there I was projecting myself out into a future of warming breezes and blossoming flowers. Not good. Spring remains months away.
I lectured myself about the pointlessness of premature spring-longing and the unhappiness that would surely bring. Find the boons of winter! I told myself.
Immediately thoughts of creativity popped into my thinking. Short days, dark nights, winter’s chill – what else is there to do but seek out the muses and give myself over the creative spirit?
Okay, good plan.
It wasn’t long before I was frustrated. The muses are slippery and elusive. Trying to engage the muse is like trying to catch an eel under water. Good luck with that. The best you can hope for is to open your hands and perhaps, just maybe, an eel will happen to swim between your open palms. It might stay there awhile if you are still and don’t do anything scary. Really, you shouldn’t stare at it, either. They are flighty that way.
Enough of the eel metaphor, apt as it is.
Inviting the creative spirit to come and play with you requires a state of alert and playful readiness. I know there are a few lucky people who seem to ooze creativity 24/7. Some muse has found their particular shoulder to be a happy place to live, and anytime they sit down with pen or paints or piano, here comes art.
I am not one of those people. You probably aren’t either. If you are, however, I am very happy for you, but you can stop reading now!
Let’s talk about the rest of us, shall we?
One thing you can do to entice the spirit of creativity into your life is to show up for the practice. That means using your awareness to dissolve whatever resistance arises when you consider creating anything. “What if I sit down with pen and paper and nothing happens?” is one dreaded thought. Sometimes it pans out that way. So, to avoid the disappointment, don’t expect anything. Expectation and attachments are major muse deflectors.
Still, you must show up. Must bring your attention. The trick is to also keep your emotions quiet, or at least delicately pleased (for no reasons whatsoever!). In other words, be amused by your blocks and barriers – your thoughts of doom and failure. Consider how silly it is that you could be upset by one failed effort to produce.
That’s why you must show up for the muses the next day, as well. And the next, and the next. Always with a light heart and calm attention.
The aim is not a New York Time’s bestseller or a symphony to equal Beethoven’s ninth. It is to express your unique “youness”. It is, perhaps, to share that with others. It could be to merely hang your creation on the wall for just you to connect with and delight in every day. Inside you is that place of art, and to find it is part of finding your Self.
Perhaps the trickiest part of attracting the muses is the seemingly lazy, introspective idleness that is sometimes required. Many artists talk about the times between creative output where daydreaming about nothing in particular is the rule. It is the priming of the creative pump, and the cold months of winter are particularly suited to this non-activity.
I forget who said this, but the saying has stuck with me. “Resistance always has meaning.” Eventually, if you continue to resist showing up for your creative pursuit, it is likely that you are in your own way. It can be helpful at such times to meditate, to ponder, on that feeling of resistance. What fear is in your way? Failure? Success? Exposure? Self-doubt? Work with the feeling, which also means, don’t resist the resistance. Or, as another wise person once said, “Stop fighting with the Universe.”
Each one of us has some medium where our creative spirit shines through. It is important to engage this medium. Why? Because it empowers us. It releases pent-up emotions and frees us to live well in a world that often seems quite crazy. It’s a great sanity-builder!
While I admit that my preferred form of expression is writing, I do find that when the written word eludes me, I can engage the muse in other ways. I paint a bit, or play with sculpey. I even crochet (though very poorly). I have several friends who are every bit as expressive with food creations as I could ever hope to be with words!
In other words, if you are a painter, and the painting muse is hiding out in a fifth level dimension somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, there are other muses hanging out that would love to play.
The are no boundaries on creative play. Some glue and a few toothpicks can do the trick. I don’t believe in ‘art’ as an exclusive thing that only a few extremely talented people can engage. No! It’s all about creation and your participation in creating something – anything! Prime that pump!
Spring will return, there’s no doubt there. The rhythm of the cycles and the seasons are a sure ground to stand upon. To do so, however, we must be flexible and work with what is.
If you are hating the winter, you are arguing with the Universe. Why not accept the gifts of the season, instead? The muses like that sort of thing, and you might just find one sitting comfortably on your shoulder, inspiring you to new creative heights.
That is my wish for you in this New Year.
photos, artwork, collage and text copyright 2010 Teri Nolan