This morning I printed the second draft of the essay I am currently writing, and the temptation to begin editing and revising, cutting and scratching and red pencilling and pacing and sighing and tearing my hair out is high, but I promised myself that I would step back and take a break from the thinking and the writing. Julia Cameron in her famous book The Artist Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, recommends--no, insists on--a weekly two-hour block of time set aside to nurture your creativity. The Artist Date. The purpose of the Artist Date is to open yourself to inspiration, insight, and guidance--and to do it alone.
That's what I am going to do today. I have decided to drive along the Wisconsin River to a small town with a little restaurant I enjoy where I can see the water and I hope spot some eagles while I have lunch. I am taking my journal and a book or two (or three) and a couple letters to answer, but maybe I will just sit and breathe and see what I see and hear what I hear and open to receive. I will probably eat a cookie, too.
I think that's what all the politicians and protesters and I might add, all the media people, too, should do. And they should all do it at the same time--and no cheating. A moratorium. A time to meditate and turn off the noise and find some peace and calm and listen for guidance. I am convinced nothing truly wise can come from the current confusion and overload of messages and points and corrections and "he said, she said." I suspect not much listening is happening across the battle lines--certainly not deep listening with the intention of understanding. Listening well takes time, skill, and a willingness to slow down, to let go of expectations, judgments, boredom, self-assertiveness and self-righteousness, and defensiveness, and that can't happen unless we clear the way inside of ourselves for the room to listen. That's where the time-out comes in. Without the time-out exhaustion will overwhelm and the consequences of exhaustion, the inability to think clearly and act prudently, are dire.
Kay Lindahl has written what I think are the definitive books on listening (The Sacred Art of Listening and Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening) and her view is that when people experience being listened to in a spiritual and deep way, they also begin to listen that way themselves. Wouldn't that be a good thing?
Obviously, I know an Artist Date holiday is not going to be declared here in Wisconsin, but you, my friend, can declare it for yourself and who knows what possibilities, what answers, what next steps, what enlightenment will occur because of it. Time for me to go--I have a date, an Artist Date.
PAUSE. I am back feeling refreshed and content--and thrilled, for I saw many eagles enjoying the sunshine perched in a tree on Eagle Island and soaring their own version of a flight plan over the water and into the hills beyond.