Loneliness and Creativity

Observation on a Buddha Rock

I know loneliness
a rock separated from a streambed
My particular glamour
is less appealing here
Like this displaced rock
am I commonplace
or too old

This rock
a misshapen Buddha
solitary Bodhisattva
witnessing the cleaving
remembering the whole

What dissension shattered humankind
into separation
Lonely and separate as this scarred rock
perhaps once praised for its cool detachment.
Who cares to take the time
to decipher the untold encrypted story

A star has fallen
to the bottom of the sea
fossilized
while a starfish rises
in the darkening sky
experiencing
alternate realities

God is in us–
is all right with the world
Has the solitary rock learned compassion
Is that the panacea for loneliness

by Christine O’Brien

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In her book, Freeing the Creative Spirit, Adriana Diaz guides the artist/reader/ creative explorer, into many exercises that enable creativity. The subtitle of her book is: “Drawing on the Power of Art to Tap The Magic And Wisdom Within.” One of these exercises invites the reader to find a rock. And then, to sit with the rock, examining its many surfaces. To see the rock as a living being and to become in some way intimate to its experience. To draw it from its various angles and perhaps to write about it as I’ve done in the poem above.

We seldom do this, stop and be present with an inanimate object. Who has the time? I certainly didn’t when I had a bustling household with children, husband and pets, a part or full-time job, extended family. I wonder though, if I had taken the time, even once-a-week, if I wouldn’t have been more present, more grounded and more available to myself and others if I had paused to deepen a connection to myself and to something in nature.

I titled this blog Loneliness and Creativity because when I feel lonely and venture into the creative space, loneliness disappears. In the naming and writing of this poem, the feeling of loneliness dissolved into “art.” Have you experienced that? It’s almost magical, in fact it is magic. It’s an alchemical experience. The base ingredients of one’s loneliness, feelings of isolation or separation blend with the pen, the paper, the paint, the brush, the clay, the camera–whatever the medium that you are using–and are changed into something higher and lighter.

I’ve experienced this more than once. And I know that I’m not the only one. When Covid hit the headlines in 2020 and we were told to isolate, I began to post photos on my Facebook page of the beauty that surrounds me living here in the mountains. Those of us who live here see it daily. However, I have family and friends who don’t live here and since I believe that beauty lifts the spirits, I made a commitment to do this. In this way, I connected with others indirectly. And, I also allowed myself to be the witness with the camera who recorded this beauty. And this beauty was a salve for me too.

All of this to say, we each have creative resources. Regardless of what any former teacher or person of influence in your life might have once told you, we are all artists and our unique way of expression has value for oneself and others.

Writing from the Daily Mundane (part two)

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Perhaps you’ve read or studied the teachings of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  He addresses how to be present in each and every moment–a path towards spiritual enlightenment.  I, for one, have noticed how difficult it is to be fully present.  And, I have also found that when I’m in a creative space, whether it’s cooking, writing, poetry (reading or writing it) and painting, I am immersed and therefore fully present. When I’m fully present, there is no sense of time.

WRITING PROMPT:

I offer an awareness practice to you.  I call this one PRESENCE OR DIVISION.

Think about one repetitive task that you did this week.  Write it down.  Describe the task in detail.  (Was it doing the laundry?)  Were you able to be present with it?  Were there the distractions of a busy family as you performed the task?  Were you able to have a meditative moment?  Was there a quieting within as you performed this task or was there a feeling of fragmentation?  No judgment, only noticing and writing about what you noticed.  Take whatever amount of time you need to write about this.   Ask yourself, “Did I feel presence or division of attention while doing this task?”  Notice and write about the task and how present or distracted that you were.

WRITING TIP:
Five minutes of presence with a task goes a long way towards calming the mind, focusing one’s attention, refreshing the spirit so that inspiration can enter.

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For me, the repetitive task was skimming the thyme leaves off the stems to dry them for later use in winter soups and stews…there was no one else here.  There was neither television nor other background noise.  The house was completely quiet.  I scraped the leaves off the stem between my thumb and forefinger, repetitively for over half an hour.  I appreciated the fragrance of thyme.  I contemplated the flavor that this spice lends to food. I loved the idea that I had harvested this herb from my own garden plot (and that I had beat the predicted frost).  And then, I was just quiet and present with this pleasant and calming task.  It is my experience that sometimes, in moments like this, I am recharging, integrating and tapping into wisdom.