Out and about on this morning’s beauty walk, I happened to ask a neighbor about his holidays, which he said he’d spent pretty much "doing nothing". That sounded like absolute bliss to me.
I’ve been reading David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, and in it he says it takes up to 4 hours of uninterrupted time, most of it quite literally doing nothing, to produce just one hour’s worth of creative output. His book is a poetic and scientific inquiry into that "nothing" – specifically training ourselves through meditation to "dive deep" for the big ideas that fuel a creative life. He describes the bliss on the other side of meditation as a "thick beauty".
Reading Lynch’s book has been a kind of revelation for me, even though I’m a meditator and have had a spiritual practice for many years. I’m very aware of how meditation helps me manage the stress of my life and stay focused in my work, yet somehow I’d never thought of it as a way to strengthen my intuition and directly nurture my creative expression. But of course it does! How wonderful…
Adopting this perspective basically takes care of two of my new year’s resolutions this year – meditate more regularly and exercise my creative faculties more vigorously – although I don’t resonate with the idea of resolutions as much as holding intentions, chief among mine for this year being to "stay awake" and "step fully into myself".
Going back to Lynch, he says that when you dive within, or transcend (through meditation), there is a "huge unbounded ocean" of bliss where creativity can flow freely. An "ocean of creativity" that creates everything, that IS us. He says this is easy "because it’s the nature of the mind" and it just naturally wants to go there.
What’s not always so easy, but totally essential, is waking ourselves up from the illusions of this world, this life, and keeping our attention on what’s really happening, both internally and in the world around us. For me, an important part of waking up and staying awake is in sharing what I see, and that’s one of the main reasons I blog – or take photographs or write poetry, or any other form of creative expression.
William Staffford underscores this imperative beautifully in his A Ritual to Read to Each Other:
"If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star."
"And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep."
So the speaking, the courage it takes to step into one’s own authentic voice, is for me a key counterpart to diving deep into the nothingness, and an essential part of illuminating the beauty I seek to see in every thing, everywhere.
John O’Donohue says that "…true poetic beauty emerges when the poet is absolutely faithful to the uniqueness of her own voice . The danger of our exposure seems to call beauty (and) she responds to the cry of the original voice."
And so we individuals start a new year, another cycle deeper into ourselves and wider out into the world. It’s good to be alive and among you!