Ojai's The Farmer and The Cook
The receptivity of the artist must never be confused with passivity. Receptivity is the artist's holding him or herself alive and open to hear what being may speak. Such receptivity requires a nimbleness, a fine-honed sensitivity in order to let one's self be the vehicle of whatever vision may emerge. It is the opposite of the authoritarian demands impelled by "will power." I am quite aware of all the jokes that appear in The New Yorker and elsewhere showing the artist sitting disconsolately in front of the easel, brush in passive hand, waiting for the inspiration to come. But an artist's "waiting", funny as it may look in cartoons, is not to be confused with laziness or passivity. It requires a high degree of attention, as when a diver is poised on the end of the springboard, not jumping but holding his or her muscles in sensitive balance for the right second. It is an active listening, keyed to hear the answer, alert to see whatever can be glimpsed when the vision or the words do come. It is a waiting for the birthing process to begin to move in its own organic time. It is necessary that the artist have this sense of timing, that he or she respect these periods of receptivity as part of the mystery of creativity and creation.
-Rollo May, The Courage to Create, 1975
Sometimes sitting in wait is about not having found the courage to move. But always, I think, it is about building towards that. Even being passive has it's merits. There are no wrong turns. Opening like the Spring flowers, it's possible to commune with our dreams as the flowers do with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds: agents of prolific fertilization, which the flowers cannot survive without.
I love this book when I am beginning something new. It's become my companion in the East, which is associated with the Spring season, beginner's mind, the hopeful Fool. It reminds me to travel light, and to keep building courage to do my work in the world.
On the subject of work in the world, have you seen a copy of Taproot Magazine yet? The guys from Nova Natural, known for their ecological, local, low-tech toys and goods for children, and Amanda Blake Soule of SouleMama have created a beautiful quarterly, ad-free print magazine that speaks to individuals, artists and families living close to the land and farm-to-tablers. Maya Donenfeld of mayamade has a burlap tote bag tutorial in this quarter's issue that I want to try, and Christine Chitness contributed on urbanizing chickens that made me want to build a coop and start nurturing some ladies.
Do you have an idea you're percolating which the East and the other directions and creature guides will help you hatch? Spring Lodge registration ends tonight.
Everything begins as a great idea.