"In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well stocked fish pond... If we don't give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked... As artists, we must learn to be self nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them - to restock the trout pond, so to speak." (Julia Cameron)
When I finished writing Sister Wife last June I knew I'd depleted my artistic reservoir. I felt emotionally drained, without a burning desire to start anything new. That's when I started this blog. It has encouraged me to write something, anything, fairly regularly, and I've come to enjoy it.
But the summer has come and gone and I still haven't started a new project. Julia Cameron (author of the above quote) suggests that we take ourselves on artist dates, at least once a week, in order to keep the inner well stocked, and in my case, to begin restocking it. With that in mind, I set out, with Winston, to visit a local church that has recently painted a labyrinth in its parking lot.
A labyrinth is a circuitous path, an ancient symbol of our life journey. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful route. Walking it represents a journey to our own center, our deepest self and back again with a broadened understanding of who we are.
The church parking lot was empty so I tied the dog to a tree and entered the labyrinth. At first I felt a little foolish as I wandered back and forth along the path, but as I got a little further into it I was able to quiet my mind and relax. Unlike the maze, in a labyrinth there are no dead ends, and everyone who walks the path will eventually reach the center. I quickly realized why this walk leads to meditation. You have to focus hard on your feet and the windy path just ahead of them in order to stay on it, and this clears your mind of all other clutter.
I've been told that if you ask yourself a question as you enter the labyrinth, the answer may unfold before you complete the journey. When you reach the centre, you enjoy quiet reflection for as long as you like and then you follow the same path out again. From there you can take the insights from your walk into your everyday life. Knowing this, I asked for insight on my next writing project. What should I write about? Who should the audience be? Should I step away from teen fiction for awhile and try something new? Should I dust off an old, unpublished story and rework it?
I walked to the center. I walked out again. Did I receive the answers to my questions? No, (and no big surprise there) but the experience reminded me of something I'd discovered years ago when my youngest daughter was in kindergarten. I'd write like a demon all morning while she was in school and then walk over there at lunch time to to pick her up. Many, many times, as I walked to the school, not even consciously thinking about my writing project, an answer for a problem I was having with it would suddenly come to me. Over and over this phenomena took me by surprise.
It must be the same principal with the labyrinth. The next time I visit it I will breathe deep, clear my mind, and enjoy. The answers I may receive won't be the ones I might have thought to ask, but I know I will come away more balanced, refreshed, and with insights that came directly from the universe, or even, more likely, the center of my deepest self. I will expect to be enlightened.