The Path

‚ÄčEverybody is a creative well waiting to be filled. Ideas and pieces of art swirl around us everywhere, looking to find vessels to house them, waiting for us to open ourselves up to their possibility, waiting for us to be filled with empty.

It is almost impossible to open yourself to this potency if you don’t believe it’s there. I’ve spent years developing the ability to go from here to there and I still struggle to get there. A lot of that is because of this chronic illness that plagues my body. That’s where the road to hell is – 50 metres before the path that leads to creative expression. That path contains a healing energy of its own, a healing not so much of your body but of your will and your heart and your strength. That is big medicine and to desire to be there but to be unable to be there is a fire that goes on burning along with the inflammation.

The funny thing about the creative space that is always there for you to dip into is that not only do you have to be able to physically get there but you have to believe that it’s there. There’s a faith to the whole thing. I believe it’s there all the time. But the gatekeeper I must get past first is full of fear-chucking. He says I don’t deserve to be there, that it’s frivolous playing in this way. If he sees that I reject this proposition he resorts to trying to muddy my waters. He sneers that even if I get there I won’t be able to stay for long. He’ll drag me back. He’ll send hinderers to the land when I’m playing there and they will foul the air with mind farts. Someone or something will always stop me. 

Unsurprising that my fears sometimes take such a form for me – I inhabit a body that has kept me limited for 17 years and before that a family that never even spoke of the land’s existence (but thank you, Enid Blyton, for providing the fuel to imagine differently).

Still, for all that, if I can get to that 12 foot gatekeeper in the first place, though he breathes at me that I won’t be able to pass and his words make me shudder a bit (his breath is made of ice), it’s easy to walk past him if you can smell the tinkling of the land.

But even if i am (a) able to get there physically and (b) get past the gatekeeper’s fearmongering I have to (c) clear the path from the gatekeeper to the land. Clearing the path takes different forms but for me this week it’s involved reading one of the books I bought with the Amazon voucher I won when I came third in Positive Writer’s Writers Crushing Doubt contest. The book is called Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go. The writer Shaun McNiff teaches classes and workshops to help people do just this, to clear the path to creative expression. It talks about ways to move into whatever your creative thing is so you can be there as freely as possible and to swim in it. 

I can never get too much of this kind of instruction. If I’m not constrained by physical or psychical chains and I am actually in front of the page, immersed in an essay, it is so hard to stay there without being strangled by pre-expectations about what it will look like when it’s finished. Thinking of it as a bundled-up product I can sell to someone for money and validation which will prove I’m not a loser taking up valuable real estate.

Man, it sounds so baseline when I see it written there in digital ink. I loathe capitalism, its relentless reductionism that puts a price on fucking everything and slams all the doors. Fuck the bottomless greed that invented such a way of living. Fuck those rich people holding up the flimsy carcass while they know that either the game is up or they’ll kill the world and starve more millions.

I feel like I’m not materialistic, that I do not want fame or fortune but just to be able to go to that land and create. But in quieter moments I hear my ego scream and I know what a hungry ghost it is and that I’m maybe not so different from those rich capitalists except by a matter of degree. They have been sickened by their wealth. I know what a bottomless pit all that striving for power is, but as I don’t have any in reality it’s easier to recognise its nasty underbite when I have none of it to lose.

It’s so frustrating when once you’ve arrived in the creative land and the thoughts that interrupt the flow come rushing in. You feel with a sinking dread that the gatekeeper is right. You feel the magic of the land slipping away from you, like you’re being sucked through the wormhole backwards.

And you don’t want to leave this space. It is here that the future lives. Here is free movement. When you’re here in “the zone” and the part of you that freaks out about earning and proving falls away, you’re left with a broad field so big you couldn’t run from one end to the other. Here is the space where all the possibilities are and you find rest. Here is what post-capitalism must feel like. Here are the answers to how we can get there, though they are not delivered in bullet points and do not conform to our linearity.

Here, all the molecules of everything have spread apart from each other and so like Neo you can dodge all of the bullets. You can make mistakes here, slopping bits of paint on a canvas, being a total amateur, but because the flow is going through everything even your mistakes and amateur strokes lose their sting and become beginnings.

Here, it is true you can’t stay here for as long as you need. Your fears and limitations pull you away and that hurts your heart.

But the balm is to remember that though you must trudgr the road to get there, to create paths that enable you to reach there, once you know that it exists, this space is always here. Even when you’re dragged backwards through the wormhole and must get up sometimes and trudge all the way back by foot, feeling like you’re reinventing the wheel, the paeadoxical reality is that that space is always here. It is not just over there miles away. 

It is here. It always has been.