Friday, June 25, 2021

The Open Road, the Detour, and the Unexpected Gift

Sometimes making art can feel like going on a road trip.

You pack everything you think you'll need.

You fill up your tank. You check your tires.

You studied the map, chosen the stops, and looked at all potential detours.

And you're ready.

Perhaps you even studied the language.

You learned the customs, you made lists. You contacted local friends. You got some expert advice. You know all about the special side trips and the little known attractions along the way. You're no typical tourist. You're in this for the long haul.

You got yourself an M.F.A. Heck, two of them! You know The Hero's Journey, you are on speaking terms with the ghost of Carl Jung, you worked in script development, and you even taught all of this. You know this. And you're hep to the new incarnations of the old Aristotelian Arc. Yeah, you've read Save the Cat. You know what the kids are up to these days. And you listen to what your wise elders are saying. You've studied Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, and you have a Habit. With a capital H!

And then, one day when you are making art, or writing or dancing, something unexpected happens.

You lose your way. You get a flat tire. You meet a stranger. You fall on a cobblestone in Toulouse. Your Aged Father has a belly ache and suddenly, you're spending a lot of time in the hospital and you have come face to face with mortality. 

Ah, my friends -- this is not a bump in the road. This is not a detour.  

This is when your adventure really begins. This is the unexpected gift.

Surrender and know this: when things go off the rails, when you are no longer in control, when all your plans fly out the window and you are making it up as you go along -- this is truly the place where art resides.  

Dear friends, your creativity prompt for this week is to open the door. Open your heart. Put down that road map and look up. Slow down and notice the smallest things. The real adventure is not on the map. In fact, it's just out of view, stealthily walking out of the frame, like a cat padding down the alleyway at sunset. Follow that cat.  

Don't think about saving it. Don't think about the hero's journey. Wait for the moon to rise. And be brave.


(Art work from the lobby at Milford Hospital)


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