Once upon a time I became weirdly interested in the blog of a Dutch woman who lived alone, seemed to have few friends or acquaintances, and rarely left her apartment. Yet she wrote, almost daily, about every detail of her waking life. Some days the Dutch woman would opt for English breakfast tea instead of Earl Gray, or notice that the eucalyptus was especially fragrant. The day she decided to re-arrange her living room furniture was like a ratings sweep episode for me.
She never disclosed her name or revealed any truly identifying information, but she did suggest that she was writing the blog as a form of therapy. I don’t know if I was taken with it because it was such an intimate window into a life very different from mine, or if I was just waiting to see if the Dutch woman would eventually leave her apartment. But I do remember being fascinated by her descriptions of the mundane, the way that simply by recording these things, she somehow elevated their importance. One day the blog just disappeared. I worried that something had happened to the Dutch woman and felt badly that I’d never commented. (But if truth be told, I would have not known what to say – just reading her words felt like a sort of intrusion.)
A few years ago, someone suggested that I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron because it is supposed to be an excellent resource for sparking creativity and at the time I really wanted to write fiction. When I finally looked it up last week on Amazon, I saw that the book had been pretty roundly trashed as a load of new age self-help garbage. I normally love new age self-help garbage, but these reviews made even me, a person who once tried to meditate myself into an out-of-body experience, pretty wary. Plus the cover was brick red and featured a mountain with a line of geese flying in front of it.
I bought it anyway. If you are not a particularly spiritual person, The Artist’s Way will definitely turn you off. The author’s basic premise is that humans, being creations of the Creator, have an innate need to create as well. And that if you recognize that truth and beauty come from a divine source, if you are open to the idea that creating is a way of acknowledging that divinity, it (the Divine) will guide you along a creative path. I don’t think it’s anything new under the sun, but Julia Cameron does have an interesting way of presenting it.
In fact it makes a lot of sense to me. And I really need some guidance along my path because I have a compulsion to create, a crapload of ideas, a smattering of talent, a dearth of self-confidence, and almost no focus. But you can’t just read The Artist’s Way and expect Great Thoughts to float down from the heavens. You have to do actual work, such as making lists and taking yourself out on dates and writing at least three pages of stream of consciousness thoughts first thing in the morning.
And you have to do affirmations, which, as some of you may remember, utterly failed me when I lost the amber brooch my husband gave me. But apparently these affirmations are really instrumental in guiding the arc of the universe in my favor. So I’ve actually used precious minutes of this past week writing sentences like, “I, Rima, am a talented artist” ten times. I follow them up by writing, “Just kidding” ten times after, which is not part of the creative exercise.
Still, I’ve been adhering to Cameron’s course pretty faithfully for eight days now. I don’t even mind the morning pages so much because I do them in the afternoon with a cup of coffee. And I must say that I have in fact experienced a few creative stirrings and moments of serendipity. It might just be what happens when you make something a priority, but it’s also part of what prompted me to start writing again. Julia Cameron is really big on “paying attention to” and delighting in (yeah – delighting) in the world around you as a way to spark creativity, and it seems to me that there is no better way to observe, record, and delight in the mundane than through this here blog.
The Dutch woman was on to something.
So here I am, back at the keyboard, which is very crusty due to the fact that I had pretty much given my laptop over to the children for the past year or so. In that time my eldest changed a lot of settings I don’t know how to undo. For this reason the computer tells me what time it is out loud every fifteen minutes, windows blow up and disappear without warning, and every once in a while a small cartoon animal will scamper across the screen.
I’m not planning making a habit out of telling you what I had for breakfast. But I am ready once again to document the daylights out of life (at least once a week.)
P.S. I changed my profile picture to show that I am getting older.
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