Have you ever read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron?
A course in discovering your creative self.
I’ve started it for the third time…actually, I’m listening to it this time. I’m teaching myself how to quill (a paper art) and listening to books fills my need to multi-task. The author is the narrator of this recording, and I feel as though we are having a thought provoking conversation while I’m twirling bits of paper.
I initially read this book on my own about six years ago. I was just beginning to think about what it would mean to be an artist – a creative person. I had never considered myself to be creative. My mother was the family artist. An illustrator. My sister inherited the talent. Mom always said, “Tammie couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler. Academics are her strength.” I believed her.
THEY considered ME to be creative!
My work with the gallery brought me into the orbit of some incredibly skilled artists, and I was SO enthralled by them. Soon I found that my circle of friends consisted of artists and wonderfully creative people. And THEY considered ME to be creative! That blew me away! That’s when I started exploring what it meant to be an artist. I wanted to understand the people around me but found a path to better understanding myself.
About five years ago, I facilitated an Artist’s Way reading group through the gallery, and we went through the exercises and tried to support each other in awakening that hidden creative person. It was serendipitous that I selected this book from my Audible list Monday morning. And I’m finding that listening is a very effective way of stimulating my imagination.
The Artist’s Way is set up as a twelve week journey of self examination and exercises. It’s meant to be read and digested slowly as you work through the weekly tasks and check-in. It’s a resource that can easily be turned to many times in your life, because we are an evolving species. We grow and our perspective changes.
For example. One of the 10 tasks for week one is Imaginary Lives. If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?
I have never done this exercise. I’ve always tried to look forward and spend very little time wondering what if. I’ve wanted to stay focused on the positive and not get caught up in the past. That’s why I probably never tackled this exercise. But if you are a regularly reader of Meandering Mind, you are aware that I attended my 50 year high school reunion last month. You can’t help but look back on such an occasion. My former classmates reminded me that there were paths left unexplored. So here are my 5 alternative lives, as of my perspective today.
- Theatre. I was VERY wrapped up in Drama Club, talent shows, interning at a summer theatre and community theatre throughout high school and most of college.
- Athletics. I was a high school jock. A dear friend told me that had Title Nine been in effect in 1966, I would have had an athletic scholarship like several of my male classmates.
- Foreign Service. I always dreamed of working abroad and had the application to work for the State Department but had not successfully mastered a second language.
- Writer. For many years I dreamed of writing mysteries like Agatha Christie.
- Cowboy. I was totally enthralled with John Wayne and watched every cowboy movie that came out. I just knew I could ride like the wind, break horses and be a sharp shooter…if only I did not live in the suburbs of St. Louis.
As Cameron points out in the book, to become an artist, one must find support. There must be someone who mentors, encourages, awakens something in you that keeps you moving in the artistic direction. Someone who helps you up when you stumble. Someone who helps you learn from failure. Someone who believes in you. I have found many of those someones in my circle of friends. They have given me great courage to explore, test and try new adventures.
So now what about these alternative lives? I took the summer of my 50th birthday to be an athlete, sort of, when I biked across country. The lure of the stage has waned, but there may be a dude ranch in my future. I am exploring options for a month abroad this winter at a language school. A bit too old for foreign service but not for living abroad. It is the writer’s life that I am now pursuing. I truly enjoy writing this blog and working on my postcard book. And there are other ideas percolating.
What about you? If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them? It costs nothing to use your imagination. It doesn’t mean that you are discontent with the life you have, but it could open the door to possibilities for fun and new learning.
That’s what THIS life is about! Fun and Learning.