SkyBlue -- The Ways of Imagination and the Quest for Creativity
Today, during my daily walk I came across a robin twice.
The countryside was hushed in the greys and whites of winter. The sky was clear enough, with clouds that kept changing shapes all the time. I spotted a frog-cloud, and a heart cloud. The mountain facing my house was a huge silent body wrapped up in the seasonal slumber: the body of an asleep giantess dreaming.
As I observed the apple tree in my terrace garden, the robin hopped onto its lowest branches. I was surprised seeing twelve little red apples still hanging from the naked branches, resisting the frost.
I walked along the country path leading to the local fountain where in times of old village women used to collect water for their households.
On my way back, as I watched the ash-like colour of tree bark and mountain, I saw the robin again, perched on the slim bough of a small tree -- was it the same robin?
In folklore, robin is about change and renewal, an omen of awakening and better times to come, beyond the winter season. It also brings a message of patience and resilience in the midst of the winter lull, in the very moment we feel restless, while surrounded by material and existential snow: a standstill or a pause in the flow of our lives.
It can be winter inside even if outside nature is in blossom. It is not always easy to attune oneself to the seasonal rhythms: work demands and modern life conditions as well as our own inner cycles can make us feel out of synch.
It is key to pay attention to our inner rhythms, whether they are attuned to natural cycles or not.
Back home, I came across a poem called "White-Eyes" by Mary Oliver. In her words:
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.
I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—
which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
I closed the book, and my eyes, all my restlessness little by little coming to a halt, as I breathed and accepted the gift of Now, the only moment we can inhabit fully.
Attuning oneself to the cyclical forces and moods of nature is a wonderful practice.
It brings forth inner peace, resiliency, wonder, groundedness, a feeling of being at home in the Universe. It requires patient and curious observation of the natural world, presence and contemplation.
Once we have taken in the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in our environment, we can ask ourselves if and how these influence our inner worlds, our perceptions and moods and our ways of being in the world.
October is the fullness of harvest season.
Even if in our modern societies the link with this agricultural function is weaker -- at least for those of us who do not grow a vegetable garden or an orchard -- we can consider harvest in the light of our projects and plans.
Not only our daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly plans associated to specific life goals, but our existential plans: in other words, who are we? Who do we want to become?
From this perspective, the harvest season becomes a great opportunity for deep observation and for reaping the fruits of our endeavours and attitudes, not only in a mundane time-related way, but also in relation to our unique soul purpose.
How do we express that dimension in our daily lives? Are we mindful and aware of this aspect or do we get caught up in daily dramas and routines? How do our "fruits" taste different from somebody else's?
Harvest season can reconnect us to kairos, the creative dimension where imagination, feeling and attention transfigure time and manifest our higher purpose and destiny.
By observing patterns, dynamics, conditions and results in our lives, we can act on and change our circumstances.
Harvest season can become an experiential laboratory where we gather our best fruits.
Attuning oneself to the seasons does not take long and it is a simple practice that brings value and joy to daily life, just by the power of observation and stillness.
Picture by courtesy of Ella Olson via pexels.com
Summer is almost over.
I am going back to school in two days: the beginning of a new school year does give you a definite sense of closure. The weather has also been rainy and cool, unusually so in this part of Italy.
However, what really makes a difference for me is my inner state, the itch to get started on a new project or bring one to completion -- which brings me to the spur of pleasure.
For a long time, pleasure has had a very ambivalent reputation: since it has been either demonised or idolised, thinking about it in a clear-headed way is not always easy.
I was just reflecting on the nature of pleasure, and how it plays a key role in our quest for self-realisation.
I have in mind pleasure that has lasting or deep effects, that lingers in our minds and emotions. In other words, what I am after is not the pleasure of instant gratification, but the principle of pleasure that spurs us on to take deliberate playful action in order to express ourselves, be creative and accomplish some kind of "results".
Sometimes, this kind of pleasure is delayed, and it does not exclude a certain amount of pain or, at least, discomfort.
Other times, the planning out and the action are part and parcel of this very pleasure, even if we cannot see the results we have been longing for yet.
The pursuit of this type of pleasure is at the core of our striving for, or flowing into, self-realisation. It is a deep, meaningful pursuit, not to be considered selfish, banal, irrelevant or self-indulgent.
It is a sacred pursuit that can lead us to the true embodiment and expression of our life purpose. Therefore, making time for deep pleasure, while accepting its accompanying pain or sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, is alike to a meditative practice that in time will bring us in alignment with our "Why".
At this time, I am dreaming my projects awake, and am ready to propel them into action again, all the while following the breadcrumbs on my path of pleasure.
Wherever you are at, may you also start a new day with a renewed sense of purposeful pleasure.
Picture by courtesy of Jim Jackson via pexels.com
In expressive arts counselling training, I work with colours, textures, music, songs, movement and dance, play, improvisation, drawing and doodling, voice and words.
Yet, I notice that for some of my companions words, especially when written, are suspect: after all, words are a product of the left side of the brain, and aren't we supposed to stimulate the right side, so that our clients can free themselves from the inhibition induced by judgment and left-brain logic... Therefore, verbalisation is used with a sort of justificatory and apologetic attitude, as a final step.
But the power of words is much vaster than that.
I believe in word magic, i.e. the heightened sensory and emotional weight words carry, when we write, read, tell and listen to stories, narratives and poems.
In my practice, I use words in three different ways:
1. Words as a clarifying and synthetising tool,
2. Words as a cherishing container for experiences, memories, emotions and ideas,
3. Words as enchantment through story and poetry.
I work with story and poetry primarily as portals towards higher consciousness and deeper awareness. The language of story and poetry is highly metaphorical and symbolic. It is full of images, sounds, textures, movement, smells and flavours.
A good story or poem activates our response on several levels, by acting on our senses, memory, emotions, imagination and ability to envision what is next.
We can know deeply and experientially through story and poetry: it is a kind of knowledge that does not necessarily rely on facts, but on connections, relations, correspondences, striking realizations, intimate understanding, sometimes a shocking sense of estrangement.
Through story and poetry, words become our home, where we can make meaning of our human experience. Through story and poetry, words also become our vehicles for explorations and adventures in the uncharted territories of human hearts and relationships, as well as our relationship with ourselves and with nature.
Thus, as all lovers of literature know, we can use words as magic wands to face our dragons, integrate our shadows and erect our castles of meaning and beauty.
Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels