Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Restocking the fish pond


"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.

Shelley

14 comments:

giggles said...

I get those messages the moment I sit in my bath. I swear that one bathroom is full of creative spirit! Intuition and glorious ideas are born in that room! Bryan has also sprouted many lyrics while showering there!

Here is a website of an artist who is working on Labyrinth projects in Surrey.
Joanna
I met her through another artist friend.

So glad you started blogging. I started mainly to routinely write. There are so many affiliate groups that are writing related. Writers Island has just replaced Poetry Thursday which has sadly closed down, but Sunday Scribblings is still up and going! There are great prompts that really get you thinking. I was a regular, but life is slightly harried at the moment! I’ll get back to it soon enough.

I remember when we first read the artist way! Still a favorite of mine!!

Hugs Sherrie

Marguerite said...

How strange...I was just thinking about your books and started looking around, and here's your blog....WITH A LABYRINTH! I discovered the labyrinth a few years ago. Some of us at UUWausau made a portable (canvas)one a couple of years ago. It was in storage for a year during a big building project, and has just now come out again and is almost ready for regular use; I still have to find a semi-permanent place for it.

For me, clearing my mind and simply walking often serves to free my mind enough that I work through problems without being conscious of the process. It doesn't always work, but it's great when it does. Now that I've actually made parts of the one I walk, I have to work to stop looking at the labyrinth itself (and all the imperfections that come with being hand made) and just focusing on the experience.

Marguerite

Angela said...

In my jogging days, I used to run alone on wooded trails. I'm glad I had a few years of doing this before I became older and wiser and realized that in secluded areas I should always run with someone else ... because it was a time of reflection and working out ideas (maybe finding the answers to questions) as well as general de-stressing. I think this is related to the experience of freeing one's mind when walking the labyrinth: it's a repetitive physical activity where you can leave your body behind to do the work and let your mind go wherever it wants.

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