Sometimes I read stuff I wrote way back when, and I think, “I wrote that… I didn’t even know that I knew that?” ‘Cos I forget, you know. I wrote this post in Sept 2009. Today I’m remembering it and wanted to share this adapted version with you.
I found this video of a sand art performance the other day. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time – the artwork that the artist creates, the vivid story she tells so silently and the way in which she creates it. Take a moment to watch it, and as you watch, imagine what it might be like to be this artist and to experience the act of creating in the way that she does it:
Isn’t it just so amazing and free?!
When I watched this sand art performance, I thought to myself, “That’s how I want to live my life,” and I wondered what beliefs and values I’d have to have about the creative process to enjoy living and creating in this way. Here’s some of what came to mind:
1. Give your best right now, even when there’s risk of loss. (Or perhaps because there’s a risk of loss)
This felt like the theme of the story she told, and it’s also very much the theme of her creative process. As an artist who loves both the process and the product of art-making, I’m amazed at her willingness to give her best into creating a particular scene and then be completely willing to wipe it away and have it never exist again. I wondered what it would be like to make art in this way, unrecorded, knowing that you’re going to destroy your beautiful work, and it’ll never exist ever again.
And I wondered what would it be like to live this way – giving your best to everything you do, making your contribution, in spite of all the risks, and being completely willing for it all to be taken from you at any point. Security doesn’t come from controlling the material world or preventing chaos. Security comes from knowing that, whatever happens, you can handle it. But that’s easy to forget, isn’t it?
How much easier does it become to make important life decisions when you stop fearing loss and heartbreak and know for sure that, whatever happens, whatever is lost, you have the creativity, resourcefulness and power to create something else beautiful and worth living for with the pieces of your broken heart?
2. You can create out of nothing.
This woman turns dirt into stories of people who come to life and have struggles and sadnesses and lonelinesses and losses, and so much more. We often make excuses: “I can’t do my thing anymore because of what I’ve lost…” Maybe you can’t do it the way you’ve been visualizing it. Or the way you used to do it. But there’s always something you can create out of nothing, and sometimes it’s only after loss – when we’re forced to create something new out of what feels like nothing at all – that we come to experience just how creative, resourceful and powerful we are.
What’s it like when you imagine having that much faith in your own imagination, resourcefulness and ability to create some version of what you love and need out of nothing?
3. Some things get better when you take stuff away.
Often we hold onto stuff in our lives just because we’ve invested a lot into it in the past and we tell ourselves that our investment would be wasted if we wiped the slate clean and moved on to create something totally different. In doing this, we think we’re avoiding loss, but we’re actually losing everything else that could have been in place of the thing we’re holding onto. Let go of the bad relationship/ work/ friendship investments so that you can make room for something better.
We have so many negative associations with the ideas of loss and destruction that we avoid it every chance we get. But loss and destruction are crucial parts of the whole creative process. In order to create something new, we have to dissolve what we thought we knew and unlearn what we’ve been taught. Just like the sand artist removed sand in order to create her pictures, our lives become more beautiful when we remove the beliefs we’ve learned that are standing between us and the picture we want.
Those of us familiar with loss know that loss and destruction isn’t always our choice though, and it certainly doesn’t feel like some beautiful and liberating circle of creativity when you lose someone you love. Sometimes loss just arrives and breaks everything as we knew it, and we have to figure out how to create a life worth living with the pieces we’re left with. This is a great challenge, so I don’t say this flippantly, but there is always the possibility that through the pain of these losses, your life can become even richer than it was before your loss.
Please don’t misunderstand me here! I’m not suggesting that your beloved died “so that you could have a richer life.” It wasn’t some back-handed gift from a misguided god. They died because of the cancer, or the car accident, or the heart attack, or the umbilical cord around their neck, or the pills they swallowed, or they just got really old… whatever it was. They died and now you’re left with a pile of pieces and you have to decide what you want to create with it. Creating a life that’s even richer, more connected and more meaningful than before is always an option available to you.
What’s it like when you imagine collecting up the pieces of your life that loss has left behind and continuously creating, adapting, shaping, dismantling and recreating your life in this way? If you could, what would you create?
You can find the Sand Art Video over here.