How to Create a Life
Creativity inspires in me noble and dangerous things. To live a creative life is essential, and, to me, the domain of flight. As I create, I am light and frolicsome, I believe in the improbable beauty of the world, for a moment I have wings. And of course, the paradox of this is also true. As I create, I am stricken often by fear, by resistance, like my hands are lead and their taking flight impossible. Paradox—I have been observing and examining this quality a lot recently (maybe it’s meant to be my word for the year).
Yet, even in paradox, the impulse to create is real for all living beings. In one way or another, nature is always creating, and being created through the process.
Last year, I beheld the start of the year from a slower, more tentative perspective than ever before, and because of this, I learned how special it is to start the year gently. Summer Joy Gross, a favorite teacher and theologian, writes of this starting time: “You don’t have to rush forward into the year…You can sit down on the seam, feel where they’re stitched together.” I love the image of the past and the future being stitched together into this one present day, a seam that has been and will be created.
I have spent a great deal of years setting out to create a year. I am realizing now that though I am creating, I am also being created by the year. This year will be the same. I will create and I will be created. This paradox will become a new seam in the stitching of my life.
And so, prompted by the new year and a wonderful journal prompt in the Isolation Journals, I consider what unlocks the creative process in me, such that I might create and in creating, be created?
I am stirred to create by journal prompts, a good book or poem, by dancing or running, by moving through a yoga practice short of long, by diving into the sea. I am stirred by walking in nature, by a rich conversation with a friend, by hearing a well-told story or myth, sometimes when I have a recipe to follow—for food or poetry.
What does this say about me? As I look to live this year creatively, in a variety of ways, I am starting the year with this question: What kindles or stokes the fire of curiosity and inspiration? I notice that for me it seems this question might start to get answered by movement, nature, oral and written words, space for flexibility as well as some routine. Oh, and I have to keep showing up. And when I do, I remember that indeed I do dip and rise, over buildings and back to stillness. I do fly and fall. The winter landscape might feel bleak, but there is birth within. Paradox that feels as unexplainable and delightful as stippled stars. Remembering the process through grief and leafless days gives my feet a little nudge, my heart a surge.
So I wrote this poem as a sort of metaphorical shrine to my creative process:
To Create a Life
Take one part routine—show up on the mat most days to sit in quiet. Breathe long and slow here. Remember your spacious heart center. Stand and move your body in all directions—imagine you’re a wave, you’re fire, wind, earth. Step outside, breathe in open air, notice the sky, remember you’re not the only living thing out here. Blend the stillness with a short run, as fast as you can. Add 3 parts delectable words—a story, a phone call, and a journal. Stir in a dash of freedom, like you’re standing on the beach with the ocean calling you to dive in, swim past the eyes’ vision line. Let your hair down into the wind. Hold your arms as wide as possible. Mix it all together. Let it simmer undisturbed, bubbling slightly with breath and sunlight or moonshine. While it simmers, close your eyes. Imagine. Dream. Maybe take a nap. Then, pour out all that’s simmered onto the page, into the classroom, out for the world and your own soul.
So friends, what stirs you to creativity? Can you envision the paradox of this year ahead as a creative act in which you are both creating and being created? Perhaps, as artist Anne Francey suggests, make your own metaphorical shrine to this process that speaks to you. Whatever you’re stirred toward, may it remind your heart to continue to pump and your feet to walk forward through these days ahead. Oh, and definitely to sit in the seam for a bit, let the year start to simmer, and get the rest you need.
Explore your creative nature on the mat with me:
Friday, January 21 • 9am -10:30am
This class will blend yoga movement, contemplation, meditation, and conversation for a new way to explore our practice in community. Covid vaccinations required for in-person practice. Limited spacing available.
Online practice via Zoom. Video recording sent to all registered guests.
$15 Reserve your spot via text to 401-440-0279.
Advance payment required to Venmo or Paypal.
Paypal to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Venmo to: @Christa-MastrangeloJoyce