So an exercise in The Artist’s Way asks us to identify old enemies of our creative self-worth by reaching back into our childhood. I really didn’t have any. My teachers were all encouraging and supportive – well, except for that mean little college professor – but that was about my singing, not my writing. My parents were for the most part, laid-back and accepting. I didn’t have any creative self-worth enemies. Or so I thought.
But the great thing about the Morning Pages, or free writes, or dig deeps, or getting in wild mind (different writers call the process different things), is you discover junk in your subconscious you didn’t realize was there. That’s why we put it there in the first place, we don’t want it. I did uncover two significant events that were probably obstacles in developing my creative self.
Significant Event #1. When I was little, my big brother delivered Grit Magazine to our rural neighbors. And since I read everything I could get my hands on, I read Grit as an 8-year-old. One week I saw an ad announcing a writing contest for kids. I excitedly told my mother I was going to enter a story in the contest. (Mama was a fellow writer and I knew she’d think this was a good idea.) But instead I got a lesson in statistics. She bluntly told me how many others would be entering the contest and that the odds of my winning were not good. I didn’t send in a story.
I’m sure my mother thought she was doing me a favor by saving me from some huge disappointment. But what if the emphasis hadn’t been on winning the contest? What if the emphasis was on entering a story? Wouldn’t that constitute a win of some sort? What if she, instead of saving me, had encouraged me, helped me, gone through the disappointment with me?
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Goethe
Significant Event #2. Fast forward almost 10 years. I’m a senior in high school. My mom passed away two years earlier and it’s time to have the I want to go to college talk with my dad. He said, “You’re don’t want to study that journalism, do you? Carol studied journalism in college for two years and what good did it do her? She’s working at a dry cleaners.” Carol was my older sister, another writer in the family, valedictorian of her senior class, and both newspaper and yearbook editor. She got sidetracked from college by a bad boyfriend and never went back.
Despite the fact that America was embroiled in the Viet Nam War and I fancied myself covering the action from the frontline for Newsweek, I told him, “Of course not. I want to study special education and work with handicapped children.”
In truth, I didn’t care what I studied. I just wanted to go to college.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Goethe
This quote was clipped from a writing newsletter I subscribed to 20 years ago. It has held a place of honor on my refrigerator ever since, placed there by my daughter when she was 12. But you know how you stop seeing things that are right in front of you every day? I came across the quote again this week in The Artist’s Way and believing this might be an experience of synchronicity, ran to check to see if the quote was even still on my refrigerator. It was, partially hidden under a magnetic photo and a gaudy bottle opener from Las Vegas.
Synchronicity, the concept that Jung described as unrelated events occurring together in a meaningful manner, is explored at length by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. And as a student of The Artist’s Way, I’m instructed to pay attention, keep my eyes open for it, because “once we begin our creative recovery, we will probably be startled to find it cropping up everywhere.”
Cameron used the Goethe quote to support the belief that when we walk in the direction of a dream, all sorts of things occur to help that would never have occurred otherwise. She provides many detailed examples which back this up.
Here’s one more thing that grabbed my attention this week. I’m listening to the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Peck writes of “highly implausible events, for which no cause can be determined within the framework of known natural laws, that occur with implausible frequency and is known as synchronicity.” He went on to say that he gradually began to see the fingerprints of God within these unrelated and unexplainable events.
So this is my most recent synchronicity. It’s not much but it was enough for me because it served as my glue during a week when my commitment to write flagged, my enthusiasm waned, and the doubt began. It held me on the path.
So what will I do next? Why, I begin again of course.