My Hero's Journey
John Lennon once said "I'm an artist, man and if you'll give me a tuba, and I'll bring you something out of it." My approach to exploring personal creativity has been somewhat reluctant.
It kept me stuck for too long.
Years ago, I was introduced to the Artist's Way, a guide to fostering creativity, from two people who gave a talk on their shared experience of working through the book. They read from their journals - stories of personal discoveries and countless mentions of synchronicity and serendipity.
I wanted to throw up.
It sounded like work for self absorbed intellectuals who thought their version of the universe was uniquely dissimilar from the rest of us. Yes, I was jealous - they were creative, smart, and boldly open. This work of personal creativity, writing everyday, making discoveries about the meaning and wonder of life intrigued me. Yet, I was convinced this work was for people who were "artsy" and already had perfect lives. The last creative thing I had done was a wood cutting in the 8th grade that was entered in an art show.
The thing is - I was interested.
My Hero's Journey
I embarked upon what Joseph Campbell called a Hero's journey. (At some point take the time to watch watch Bill Moyers PBS series, The Power of Myth, to get the full experience Joseph's Campbell's awesomeness.) A Hero's journey starts with individual need for change,then to a subsequent quest, challenges, assistance, more battles, then ultimate victory. The hero comes back home changed or transformed.
It took a time of great personal upheaval in my family and deep depression before I finally began morning pages. Out of desperation I picked up a copy of the Artist's Way because I remembered hearing that the author had a formula and prompts. This was the beginning of a life changing journey.
I decided this work would be for no one else but me. A word at a time, page by page, three pages per day I wrote. I kept my notebook hidden. Even I didn't look over what I wrote. I told myself, just write whatever and however you want. They say when you are walking through hell, keep walking. I kept writing.
This was my way of taking a step a day.
Here it is ten years later and I'm still writing everyday. I write whatever is on my mind each day. Julia Cameron says morning writing is like windshield wipers for your brain. I wonder, express gratitude, ponder next steps and draw.There have been times when this practice created a safe place to explore tough issues. I have written through the break up of my family, the painful end of my relationship with my god daughter, a family member's struggles with addiction, the suicides of my brother, mother-in-law, my retirement and more. During these times the practice of writing created cracks that allowed light to shine through the darkness.
At the end of a hero's journey, the final step is to share any wisdom gained.
That is why I am writing to you.
I still don't consider myself to be artsy and surely don't have the perfect life. I have something more, I life in which I find wonder, purpose and connection. My work with morning pages encouraged me to begin sharing what works for me. I encourage you to begin your own journey. Begin it by writing. See the core practices section for guidelines on mindful writing.
Peace be with you on your journey,