As part of a creativity class I am assembling a first aid kit that I can open when I get thrown off centre and land somewhere in the street below, stunned and wondering what the heck I am doing and why I bother, and all those other hair pulling questions we ask ourselves in moments of frustration. I am filling this funky vintage first aid box with all kinds of elixirs and remedies, wake up calls and bread crumbs to follow through the forest of my sometimes dark and tangled mind, things to remind me of my essential intention when I create. Things that remind me what I am doing here and why? Things to lift the spirit and pull me forward when my inclination might be to melt into a puddle on the floor.
Of course the kit contains a Buddha and a lovely little Quan Yin statue and a tiny bridge that reminds me to cross back over into the land of inspiration and courage. There is a tiny stone to remind me of strength and groundedness. And a card I have kept for many years that says: "your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart give yourself to it." It's about living whole heartedly. I can't be reminded of this often enough. And of course the wonderful Mary Oliver line: "What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" That one always wakes me up from my somnambulant state.
And there is a Jack Kornfield quote from his book, "A Wise Heart": ""Thomas Merton once advised a young activist, "Do not depend on the hope of results .... you may have to face the fact that your work may be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself." By aligning our dedication with our highest intention, we chart the course of our whole being. Then no matter how hard the voyage and how big the setbacks, we know where we are headed."
This quote reminds me that it's all about process and intention, not the end result. When I get too focused on what things are looking like and judging and editing and being critical, there's no quicker way to close down the whole of Santa's workshop. I need lots of reminders to "just do" and not look over my own shoulder like a some sort of circus contortionist. There is a time and a place for the editor but it isn't during the creation period.
And I will go off in search of other quotes that remind me to carry on. Here's another Jack Kornfield one that will likely go in with the gauze and tweezers: "Setting an long term intention is like setting the compass of our heart. No matter how rough the storms, how difficult the terrain, even if we have to backtrack around obstacles, our direction is clear... It is good to question our own dedication, even if it makes us uncomfortable. To what have we dedicated our life? How deeply do we carry this dedication? Is it time to rededicate our lives?"
And I think I will put my Pipi Longstockings book in there too to remind me to have fun and be outrageous and adventurous and love my life. Perhaps when I stand at my easel I will channel Pipi. So let me treat you to just a little delicious tidbit of Pipi in an artistic mood: "Next she had gone into the parlour and painted a large picture on the wallpaper. The picture represented a fat lady in a red dress and a black hat. In one hand she held a yellow flower and in the other a dead rat. Pipi thought it a very beautiful picture; it dressed up the whole room."
And now I am starting to wonder, what's in your first aid kit?