present, past, future
Have you ever noticed how approaching the future can be a bit like walking backwards through the snow?
The present and past: I can clearly see where I’ve come from but after some time and distance, things grow vague and my memory, like the view on the horizon, is hazy. The future, while ahead of me, is also – following this walking backwards through the snow metaphor – invisible because it’s behind me. Simply speaking the future is yet to be seen, lived, sensed, experienced first-hand.
I’ve just finished the 11-day March 2015 solstice creativity challenged hosted by the Daily Creative Practice – DCP, a mutual (virtual) support group. It was a good experience for me, in that I achieved my goal: I posted an image and short text about it each day running from 21 to 31 March. Hurrah for me!
I don’t always live up to my own expectations, do you?
Even so, goal-setting is important to me, important for measuring my growth, or knowing where I am (not). And ever the pragmatist, it’s also an opportunity to practice silencing my own internal critic when I don’t succeed. Similarly my internal cheerleader, while I appreciate her enthusiasm, she too sometimes needs reigning in when I’m feeling tempted to set (exciting) but unrealistic goals.
Change (personal and/or political) is hard, and being gentle and encouraging with ourselves is the best way to succeed.
When I really do stretch myself, trying out new behaviours, putting my values into action in new ways, I am stepping into ‘uncharted territory’. Those around me don’t always know what to make of the ‘new me’. And in fact, ‘the new me’ might even challenge them to reconsider some things about themselves, which may not be comfortable or easy.
On top of all this, I may not always be graceful or smooth as ‘the new me’. Think of a baby learning to walk, speak or do all the things a baby does for the first time.
Fluency and grace require practice. And persistence.
This blog is an example, now approaching my first year I can now look back over the past year and measure up how I did.
One thing, I’m (relatively) proud of is that I nearly met my goal of blogging once a week.
I remember my enthusiasm a year ago when I started, and I wondered if once a week was ‘too low’ a goal. But knowing the busy pace my life can take, I grasped reality tightly, silenced my over-enthusiastic cheerleader and stuck to that goal. Something about once a week felt right.
If I can manage 4 more posts (including this one) in 4 more weeks, I will have blogged 41 out out of 52 weeks. Wow. Hurrah for me! 11 weeks short, but considering that I registered this blog in July 2013 and it took me more than a year to write my first post, I’m darn well satisfied with that result.
March 2015 solstice creativity challenge, what did I learn?
I was really honest with myself about my capacity, the context I inhabit, and I let go of perfection and desire to compete, or show off. There are a number reasons why I’ve failed before, but one that leaps out at me is the goal I, in the past, have set for myself of only sharing work I was ‘proud/comfortable/satisfied’ of/with. This time I
listend to what the DCP guidelines invite: sharing a bit of the process, or merely the momentum gained through the practice. Paying attention to the present and reflecting on the past, I could see how my own internal competition and desire to show off were my own doing. Self-sabatoge. I set myself up to fail by how I allocated my time and what I was comfortable sharing. In past marathons I didn’t always have/make the time to ‘finish something’ to a point where I was ready to share.
So this time, as is typical of me and as I aspire to be, I noticed the present moment, and I boldly grasped it, and I threw myself into the next waterfall in my river of life. I was afraid, but I did it anyway. That’s the ‘yiippee, wee, wee!!!’ in my river of life. It was uncharted territory and I had to move beyond my self-limiting belief about what was OK to share.
My primary material was 420 X 594 millimetre sketch paper and whatever pens were to hand. I tried to set aside 15 minutes each morning for the task (and very nearly managed though the second to last day was a bit of a ‘false 15 minutes’). But I did it. My daily question was ‘what is going on for me right now? What’s on my mind? How is it helpful (not)?’
And I spontaneously and without self-censorship responded with doodles, text. For me it was raw stuff. I was in my discomfort zone. And the momentum has been very good.
A mediative practice (sitting on the cushion, walking the dog, etc) and my daily creative practice (dcp) are essential to my well-being. I need both, and I often sacrifice one or the other. Recently it’s been the dcp. My 11-day creativity challenge helped me to clearly see that, and now I know I have to ring-fence/protect/honour/commtt to that dcp-space if I want to influence my future. I can’t see what that future is, but if I continue with my every day patterns I’m not going anywhere. Othewise it’s the same=old, same-old.
So here I stand, on the edge of the future, and I know there’s more (same old and new) activities on the horizon. In two weeks time, I will begin a 10-week clown course. A month ago, I became a union officer at my work place, and sadly there’s way too much work there. And then hopefully there’ll be more work in South Sudan and the other invitations to work here, there, everywhere that is typical of my work. And then there’s all the stuff I already do, so how will I manage? I honestly can’t easily see what I can cut out. It’s all important.
keep on keeping on with my daily creative practice
But wow! My daily creative practice (journal-writing and art-making) helps me enormously, I know that. So why, when the going gets busy, do I cut myself off from one of my primary sources of sustenance? A friend’s comment about my perpetual busy patch got me to thinking about self-sabotage and perceived effectiveness. Too often I sacrifice my creativity time to ‘write one more email’ or ‘work on this press release’ or ‘squeeze in one more meeting’, when really maybe I just need to stop and honour that time I’ve ring-fenced for creativity. Or at least acknowledge and be clear when I get up early each day – is this time for me, or ‘the movement’? If it’s a day that needs to be for both, how much for each?
I am aware of how hard this will be, and in fact, if I had any doubt, my last image for the March creative challenge, drew that fact to forefront of my imagination. A hot air balloon, with a person in the basket ready for the next thing, but attached with a rope to a person on the ground, asking ‘hey where do you think you’re going?’
Where am I going? I don’t know. But I know if I follow the momentum I’ve gained in the past 11 days the future is going to look different from now and the past.