I am not sure who said what you are waiting for has already begun, but I enjoy entertaining the notion that what I cannot see, what I am waiting for, has already commenced. It implies that there is a response, even if unseen, that is in motion. This encourages me to nourish this seed, in spite of the absence of any "proof". I am invoking this phrase to fortify me now, after delicious travels, to rediscover my direction with paint and pen.
For the creative artist there is no impoverishment and no worthless place. –Rilke
The artist looks around, sees what is offered, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make use of what has been given. To wish for something different, for what someone else has– to operate as if you don’t have enough of whatever it is you are missing (time, talent, or money)– is to step out of being a maker and into the swamp.
Being creative is not dependent on age, talent, IQ, gender, money or time. The “impoverishment” of being without something you consider essential can be the seed and structure for inspiration, for a new way of thinking.
There are times I am reminded that I must practice what I preach- perhaps you remember the story of my painting retreat at St Meinrad Archabbey:
I had my largest painting, my most valuable possession, tied to the luggage rack on the top of my car. All my other supplies and smaller paintings filled the back of my Subaru. When I safely arrived at my studio in the abbey (oh, the tall ceilings, open space, the freedom from distractions!)– I set up my large easel for the oil painting in process. On the tables I put my sketchbooks, paper, ink, watercolor, etc. I was ready to begin. It took some time before I realized I had everything I needed except my oil paints! My mind raced– what now, drive all the way back home? At that moment, a phrase I say to my students came back: Act as if you have everything you need. Okay– I said to myself– I have other paintings, paper, pencils and ink to work with. In my supplies I found my new luscious R&F oil pigment sticks. Only because I didn’t have my oil paints, I discovered all kinds of creative ways to use these sticks as paint…. mixing and layering on the canvas…and when Brother Martin came by to see what I was doing, he went out and bought pigment sticks too.
May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back. –Rilke
You don’t have to be of any particular religion to pray. Everyone knows what it feels like to be smitten by loss, to say oh help me please, or be filled with a profound sense of gratitude. Rilke’s phrase, no forcing and no holding back, is a razor’s edge. It requires what I call prayer, meditation, or active waiting, to maintain balance. Contemplation is a necessary tool for the paradox of navigating this world while sustaining an internal compass. There is a balance between resisting the temptation to grab the first bright opportunity and jumping in, all of you, when it is time.
The process of resisting forcing something into shape, and yet knowing when to commit fully, requires courage, ground and a kind of fierceness. This may be especially true if you are a woman. Boundaries between ourselves and dear ones can be elusive. A woman is used to bending to the needs of others at the expense of making time to hear her own voice. Historically, women don’t have as much practice taking time away– without asking for permission, feeling like we are neglecting duty, or that we need a practical justification. Duty, fear and time become excuses for not doing the thing we are here to do.
Where is your sanctuary where no one can find you? Where do you lose yourself and find yourself? Where is your place that others may not enter? Your sacred space, your temenos, demands saying no to all and any interruptions to your own private listening. It requires vigilance– and there is that word, fierce, again: showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. It is from the latin, ferus, meaning untamed. I think this untamed part is an essential element of becoming fully yourself, of not holding back.
Where is the untamed part of you?
How often have you said no, and wanted to say yes? How often have you said yes and really meant no?
I am not talking about the social graces that help us be kinder to our fellow humans, by refraining from saying something unkind, or bopping someone over the head- but rather, the willingness to claim and seize the time and space that has no particular justification or use for the world at large, and that only belongs to you.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing it and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.
From The Book of Hours I, 12 –Rilke
What holds you back? I'd love to hear from you.