I hope your new year unfolds with ease and grace and that what you truly value and love is the undercurrent of all that you make in 2017.
I began this year teaching within Taos Pueblo to a small group of deeply curious, creative, and brilliant members of our shared village here in the U.S. We had many discussions about what will be required of each of us in the coming year. The consensus was to lead with our imagination and creativity as we forge new images, symbols, stories, and acts of power in the world that magnify what it means to be stewards of the human race and the earth we stand on.
We are just days away from the Presidential Inauguration. The journey to this moment has been a long, painful, turbulent collision with our collective shadow. We have been, and continue to be, fully exposed — the good, the bad, and the very ugly. There is nothing more profoundly unsettling than to be confronted by our own individual and collective pathology. The good news: this is when real change can occur. It requires turning fear to faith.
Fear got us into this mess, and faith born of our imagination and creativity can lead us forward.
In times of great destruction, the social artist in you is required to put things back together in a way never before seen. You don’t have to be an artist to express yourself artistically. If you are human, the canvas of your creation is the way you “make” your life. How you love determines how you will live.
When your heart is broken do you hide within the protective cape of fear? Maybe your lover left you, your business failed, death took someone you cherished? You know, that thing that has broken your heart seemingly beyond repair. Are you dimming your creative light by dismissing the world as hostile, unfair, and something you must defend and protect against? Are you building walls against people, ideas, or even yourself?
Try this instead. Take risks in the direction of uncertainty and assemble a sense of faith, a belief in something without any evidence of it, as a pathway to even greater connection to yourself and others. Take a step in the direction of the unimaginable. Look for ways to love again, brush yourself off, and launch your next big idea. Dare to give birth to something you may outlive. Using your creation as a portal for that which is greater than you. As Dani Shapiro says, “The central task of the creative life is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it.” Go there.
Faith isn’t a destination. It is emergent. We experience it in the making of it.
The artist in you, the maker of stuff, will long to turn her grief to an act of gratitude that transmits beauty to feed the aliveness in the world. Philosopher and artist Ann Hamilton tells us that every act of creation matters. How you create matters. Make a cup, a conversation, a building, an institution, make memories, make peace, make a poem, a song, a drawing, a play. Make a metaphor that changes, enlarges, or inverts the way we understand or see something. Make something to change your own mind – acts that amplify soul.
The artist in you makes stuff out of essence, soul personified in life. Your creative acts make you an “activist” engaging in your world as a vulnerable observer, allowing yourself to be remade by your encounters with the “other” (not you). You confront, provoke, and enchant through a disruptive discourse, one that forces you to break from the trance of your habits and prejudices and to “see” or imagine in a new way, leading to actions that re-make the very fabric of how you live.
The upwelling of the creative life force within you restores a sense of presence, purpose, and place as you serve yourself and the world opens to new possibilities. This sensation is the experience of faith. Your life then becomes a spirit house for the holy where you as a vulnerable observer participate and co-create in an animate world. What you “make” is one more conversation with god/goddess (fill in whatever word works for you). This is the ceremony we call life.
This is when you experience a direct line to the universal mind that breaks the bonds of the human condition, where the imaginal sources your art, your making. “Imaginal” according to Manual Kant is when the universe operates within you, when you are in the quantum field, no longer in your biases and habits. A liminal space opens up. An encounter with the holy other occurs and takes everyone who encounters your offering with you.
The choice is yours. You can choose to identify with your pain (the unresolved story or curse that is yours to bear, separating you from life itself) or to see the reclamation with your imagination (your healing potential, blessing, and wholeness) that propels you to create. Your story of loss becomes the material you use to create something never before seen. Choose to utilize every act of “making” as an opportunity put your life back together, sourced in love. When you do, you enable an encounter with the holy other by staying open, curious, and seeing through the literal to the ephemeral.
May every action you take keep the possibility of diversity alive, deepen your spirit, broaden your engagement with the issues that matter most to you, and help you listen deeply to those who share opposing views to your own, replacing your fear with faith.
In psyche and spirit,