A Creative Strike
I awoke with a start at 5:30 am. These words kept prodding at my brain, wanting to get out. I have had moments like this before, where I see and hear words scrolling through the ticker tape of my mind late at night and I always think I will capture it in the morning. The words are so good, of course, I will remember them. But I never do, so I decided that it was time to listen to this voice in my head. It clearly had a message for me so I grabbed my iPad and began to write.
I Clearly Needed to Hear the Words
This has been a profound experience for me. I have never had such a visceral connection to writing. Writing has always been enjoyable for me, but it went beyond that. I literally wrote each word as it appeared in my consciousness. This was not an exercise in writing, I did not analyze the phrases and then edit it as I was writing. This was channeled and it flowed out of me word by word. When I got to the end, there were just no more words. I had no idea what I had written, I read it and cried.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this experience and what it means for me. I have never had such a guided inspiration before. I’m not sure where it came from. Was this Aaron reaching out to communicate with me and let me know that I am ok, that he’s ok? Was this just a manifested thought process that has been in my deep REM state locked away until this very moment when I was between sleep and awake? Or was it just a poem? Words capturing my thoughts.
Where is my Creativity Hiding?
It’s not that I think the poem is brilliant writing. I’m sure there are other writings that are similar and better. I know it’s completely normal for me to have existential musings at this stage in my grief and this is where it really came from. It’s emotional and authentic.
What’s interesting to me is the process. It’s been a struggle to get back into my art. I have spent the last two years building an art business that would take me through this. I knew I was going to be faced with the loss of my parents and my partner. My art was supposed to give me space to create and grieve. But it is not happening.
Now one may argue that I am impatient, that it’s less than 3 months since he passed, don’t rush the process. And I get that. I’m not rushing the process, I am sitting with it – every day. I know I am grieving. I’ve had days where I am just sad all day long, cry easily and I am so full of fear for what has been and what is coming. There have also been days with quiet solitude and days where I don’t have a thought at all about any of this. And I’ve had days with laughter and joy. I am listening to those fears. Paying attention to where those thoughts are leading me, and really, it’s not to my sewing studio.
Working Through the Self Doubt
This has lead to more fear and self-doubt. I thought I had it figured out. My art was supposed to serve me and get me through these tough times. I have been frustrated that this was not happening and I was feeling like I had it wrong, maybe I am not an artist. Maybe I am a fraud who just desperately made up a business to try and fulfill a process I thought I could control. I know this is not necessarily true, but these are my thoughts sometimes.
To get through the last couple of months while I have not felt like creating in my studio, I decided to focus elsewhere, in hopes that I would find my creativity. I did the easy, structured and necessary thing of my taxes. It’s been a hard slog, I really had no desire to do it as you can imagine. But I thought if I just kept at it and put it behind me, it would make space for a creative moment.
My Creativity Owes me Nothing
But what I have come to realize is that my art doesn’t serve me, I serve it. There is no structured process for grief. There is no formula to getting through it, even for the artist. My creativity owes me nothing and I cannot put it in a box to take out when I feel up to it. It comes when it is ready, and in the form that it wants to be. My challenge is to be open to the task. I have to be ready and willing to succumb to its demands and let it flow out of me in whatever form it needs to be.
I don’t get to choose when and how it approaches me. So, for now, it is writing. I’ll take up that task, write what needs to come out of me. Share what needs to be shared and step through this, one creative moment at a time… or not, as the case may be.
Cathie Green says
I love where this one took you, Bridget, “MY CREATIVITY OWES ME NOTHING.” But when you do head back to the sewing, consider painting with thread that sunset you photographed above. Spectaculator!! I’m going to paint it. Love, Cathie
Julia Stuempel says
I am sad to hear your pain and you questioning yourself. You are an artist who does amazing work. You are a talented, loving caregiver of others. You are genuine and I can’t wait to meet you one day. I am currently living in Alberta but moving to Ontario soon. I just told my husband yesterday how it will be great to be able to meet you and take one of your classes. And during a collage class I was taking, the instructor talked about thread painting. I mentioned your name, pulled up your fb and told everyone to look you up when they got home. You are an inspiration. I hope this brings you a small bit of comfort when you read this. Maybe even a smile. Just knowing that someone you have never met, provinces apart, was spelling your name out loud so my classmates could also appreciate all that you have to offer. I believe in your gift and I also believe your partner is giving you the strength you need right now. Savor it and know when you are ready, your admirers will be here waiting. I look forward to meeting you one day Bridget.
Bridget O'Flaherty says
Thanks Julia for all of your words of support. Don’t be sad, this is normal grief. I am ok and I will be ok, I will keep creating and I look forward to meeting you someday too!