Tuesday, July 04, 2006

To Write

I've been delving back into a great book, Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write, written in 1938, it is a work about finding your muse, art, independence and spirit. Ueland uses one of my favorite iconoclasts, William Blake, as a template for creative spirit. Interestingly, Blake conceived of God as the brunt of imaginary force within all of us, feeding on that energy for spiritual sustenance, often to the risk of ridicule and monetary loss--yet screaming the maxim that answering the voice is the m0st important thing we can do as humans. Imagination and creativity as pillars of glory.

Van Gogh painted not from obligation but only because he saw something beautiful and wanted to convey his vision and feelings to others. Poetry is the same--recognition of the value of and beauty within things natural, and transforming the sensation into personal expression. Having your eyes open enough to want to bask in beautiful things, to express them to others, or simply to celebrate for its own sake.

"Writing--there is something necessary and life-giving about it. A state of excitement. And it is like a faucet: Nothing comes out unless you turn it on, and the more you turn it on, the more it comes. Do these things for internal gratification and enlightenment, not materialistic reward."

Ueland reminds me that there is magic also in contemplative idleness, letting the imagination ooze out of your pores. My experience is that not all inspiration is a spark of feverish scribbling. Solitude can facilitate my creativity, stripping away the often pointless burdens of daily static and just letting the spirit be. The holiness of spirit, it is that which is always searching, searching and trying to sift what we really think and feel from all the excess that school or society or poisonous relationships place on us.

The thoughts and visions that I write today are actually the result of some other days' idle solitude. As Blake so delicately puts it: "Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires."

As I sit today on the banks of this creek, I feel some level of insight into my Imagination. The importance of the present. Embracing the imaginative. What do we have? Sitting and hearing the birds, murmuring of the water-- I saw three of the most vibrant bluebirds on the trail here, almost a turqoise, translucent blue. This, and the reading and the writing, has edified my soul.

On another note, Dave's run across Illinois is this coming weekend. I'll be crewing Friday night, camping out at a lock on the Hennepin Canal, crewing through Saturday, driving down to run the Dog Days 5k, driving back to camp at Buffalo Rock State Park, then crewing through Sunday. Report to follow sometime, contingent upon survival, of course.

Soundtrack: Avail, "Over the James"

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