Friday, January 1, 2016

The New Year Beckons

Seeing as it’s the first day of a new year and a month since my last scribble on this site I thought it was about time to get the grey matter into gear. Don’t think I’ll be waxing lyrical or sharing any pearls of wisdom to help anyone fine-tune their list of New Year resolutions. There are enough feel good anecdotes floating around on Facebook at the best of times to do that, and as we pause to think about the year ahead they’ll probably now come pouring in by the truckload.

They encourage us to reach out to others, not be judgmental, hug a friend, hug a dog, hug a tree, climb mountains, explore, dream big, create, exercise, look up. look out, cook up a storm, smell the roses, pick flowers, don’t pick fights, love cats, love your neighbour, look after this fragile planet we call home, you name it, someone will have posted something relevant to fit whatever resonated with them at the time. And that’s fine, they’re little pick me ups which can sometimes be just what you need in the middle of a hectic or sad or bad or mad or whatever type of day.

Most of the time for me though I gloss over them, for well intentioned pithy phrases don’t inspire me that much. Which is a little strange on one level, as I’ve amassed a vast collection of quotes, not one liners from supposedly notable people, but rather sentences, phrases or paragraphs from whatever I’m reading. Good writing, really good writing, entrances me, takes me somewhere else, moves, inspires and challenges me, and infuriates me that I can’t write that well.

Then there’s the desk calendar someone gave me years ago with its Mottos for Success, most of which I find rather simplistic and patronising, but for some reason it remains on my study desk as there is the occasional anecdote that rings true for me. I think it sat on February 2nd for several years to remind me I needed to change my mindset by setting aside time and creating a space for myself where I could reflect and refocus in order to become more whole.

Don’t knock the benefits of relaxation. A refreshed soul can be a truly creative soul, and a truly creative soul is a productive soul.

For the past year or so it’s been sitting on December 10th Before you discover, you must explore. Enter the worlds of medicine, science, travel, engineering, communication or whatever, nothing happens overnight. Penicillin didn’t just appear one day, the theory of relativity didn’t occur to Einstein in an instant, the fact the world is not flat took a while to catch on, and I still don’t really understand how telephones, fax machines, computers, radios, televisions and a myriad of other things work, I mean how do people’s minds come up with these things? Planes, trains and automobiles started out as a germ of an idea in someone’s brain, and from there the journey began to work out how the dream could become a reality.

And therein lies the exploration, where you do the hard yards, the experimentation, the research, the first draft, the second, the third and fourth, the revision, the trial and error, the going forward, going in circles, going backwards, and riding the roller coaster of frustration and joy, disappointment and victory. I have a tendency, and I sense I’m not alone, to want to arrive at the end product without going through the process, to have the reward without dealing with the messy stuff.

And when you apply that process to more than inventing or creating something, when you dare to look inward, when I dare to look inward, to explore what’s going on in my heart and mind, in my soul and spirit, it can be challenging at times to discover what’s there, or more confronting, what’s not there. 

While Christmas shopping I saw Do more of what you Love on several different kinds of merchandise. The ultimate form of employment is to find the thing you love most and make a living from it, not an easy thing for the vast majority to achieve. But to discover those things that bring our spirit alive so we can be more present in each moment, to make our mark however humble, to put our own stamp on something, whether we see it as particularly creative or not, can bring immense satisfaction and fulfilment when we see a project through.

So, will I do more of what I love this year? Will I be more disciplined so the dreams bubbling below the surface have a chance not only of survival but of coming to the surface? Will I dare to challenge myself, take a risk, think outside the box, or will I play it safe? Actually writing it down challenges me, for to play it safe makes me feel like I’m giving up, giving in. I’m not getting any younger, and I often wonder if my dreams are simply delusions, but taking the easy road, doing what seems sensible and not stretching myself, makes me feel deflated, already defeated.

So I guess that’s not an option. The journey continues, and while I have my wits about me I’ll endeavour to pursue whatever creative explorations I need to make in order to discover what this one little person can be and do. While I’ve been clacking away on the keyboard a monstrous moth has been flinging himself at the window and flapping about madly, attracted by the light. I’m not sure if moths have the same super short life span as butterflies, but if so his flight of fancy has come to an end on my windowsill, where he now sits quite docile, spent after all his frenetic activity.

He headed towards the light to see what it might reveal. Maybe I need to find some illumination as well.