SkyBlue -- The Ways of Imagination and the Quest for Creativity
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
I don't know why, but on reading an account by anthropologist and shamanic teacher Hank Wesselman, I felt the urge to rewrite it in my own words.
It is about his experiences with Spirit. Here it is, in my own words:
Leopard man came to me when I was three years old.
At that time, I had only seen leopards in the zoo. It was a thunderbolt in the serene sky of my childhood. For days on end, I dreamt of him: leopard man.
My mum took me to the zoo often and I grew up smelling the scents of wild animals in the midst of New York.
On that winter day, though, I stood spell-bound in front of the elegant spotted creature that paced a narrow cage.
As I looked, the leopard gazed into the depth of my soul and I felt a mutual recognition.
Afterwards, leopard man came into my dreams and visions.
We would meet in the park, near bushes and tall, thick trees.
He was to become my playmate and guide.
When I grew up, I became a postgraduate student of anthropology, I had my first fieldwork experience in South-Western Ethiopia.
One day, as I worked at the fossils excavation site in the Lower Omo Valley, I had an eerie sense of being watched.
As I gazed around, I saw a sudden "break" in the air and the quick, liquid vision of a spotted creature appeared.
I asked what that was to my fieldwork companion, an Ethiopian young man who had been watching.
He grinned -- because he had seen it too.
"Shaitani" -- he said. In Swahili it means "Spirit."
And he bent a brass bracelet around my wrist, in acknowledgment of our common tribal past: the ancient tribal past of an Ethiopian young man and a native New Yorker.
Picture by courtesy of Yigithan Bal, via pexels.com
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