Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Wings We Have are so Fragile

Our creativity is so fragile.  I truly believe that creative people - artists, writers, and anyone who makes things - we are meant to be in the flow.  That when we are not making things, when we are taken away from that state or jolted from it, when the inevitable interruptions of life also interrupt our creativity, that's when things are misaligned. There are times when we are more productive, more often in the groove, than other times.  When we are stagnant or blocked, we spend a lot of time trying to get back to that place where things were flowing, to recreate those conditions. But I also firmly believe that the flow, the stream, that is the natural state of the artist.

Rilke, once said, " a good marriage each person appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude and thus shows him the greatest faith he can bestow."  But I think also, that this can be true of friendships where there is the common (though separate) goal of making something beautiful, or in making art of any sort.  Okay, and I suppose that friends will have a more difficult time of being a guardian of another's solitude than a partner would.  But can we not be the guardians of each others' creativity?  

I'm profoundly fortunate to have a brilliant and talented circle of friends who are also artist/writers who look out for me, who hold carefully what I give them.  Who are joyous and giving in their remarks and also in what they share.  And I hope I do the same for them.  I have a few friends who have rather magnificent things in the works and I think part of being the guardian of your friends' creativity is in taking genuine joy in these moments.  It can be difficult when your own work lingers and languishes and maybe there was a time when I wasn't so swell at being happy for others.  It's a practice though, right. The whole thing.  And I can pretty happily say, that it's been a piece of cake to be happy for these friends.   

Maybe it sounds strange, but I think that when you can't take joy in the visions of your contemporaries, your own creative energy will be compromised.  Helene Cixous has said, "At times some small thing or a person is all it takes for someone to write or not to write."  Which I have long taken to heart.  I mean, I know it's true for me.  I'm fragile, I'm sensitive, I'm shy.  I'm susceptible, though less so all the time.  But it's also made me conscious that the things I say or do can hurt anothers' creativity.  For example, I've had people say I take a lot of photos, or I'm prolific in my writing.  I've had people say that my creative output made them not want to take photos themselves because this flow or whathaveyou intimidated or stifled them. Which in turn actually stifled my creativity, made me feel guilty and really quite miserable.  The last thing I want to do is quell someone's inspiration.  I guess we all have to find our own filters, to moderate how we are exposed to all those things on the web. The one thing I do know is that the more creative you are, the more creative you are.  And trying to monitor or slow the stream is what messes it all up. 

I don't think it's my job to inspire the universe.  If a few people find their way here and can be inspired by the images or thoughts or poetry strewn about, then, lovely.  I do think it's my job to guard the creativity of my close friends though. And it's also something I want to constantly and consistently practice.  

So, thanks for listening/reading - this was mostly one of those thinking aloud posts. Something I want to keep pondering and making notes on - the ways in which we can be the guardians of each others' creativity.  

There is a poem by Catherine of Siena that I have quoted in full before here.  But here is the ending:

The wings we have are so fragile
they can break from just one word, or

a glance void
of love.

I wanted to live in that cloister of
light's silence

because, is it not true, the heart
is so fragile and shy.


  1. Shawna! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I look forward to diving into your pretty blog!!!

  2. Today I want to stop and say thank you for your posts and your beautiful photos. They do indeed inspire me. I don't even remember how I found my way here, but I knew immediately I had to subscribe.

    "The more creative you are, the more creative you are." Amen.

  3. Shawna, you were the one who inspired me to go forward and inflict myself on the world (by not in those words). You are my guide and coach in blog-ville. I am so grateful for your support. Your creativity and way with words is not only an inspiration, but a balm for me. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.

  4. How real and authentic a person you are! I knew I will like you :-)

  5. thank you, all - so heartwarming to read your comments.


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