After about 2.5 years of relative silence on this blog I am ready, I think, to dip my toe back in the water. While silence has been the rule here, that does not mean the time was restful for me.

No, no, no.

Overwhelmingly, my experience through this period was rather like that of Neil Gaiman’s character “Coraline,” who unwittingly entered a world that was an unhealthy imitation of the one she had known. The word I found myself using most often to describe my experience was ‘nonsense.’

I was stunned by the nonsense, the ‘madness,’ and finding words was nearly impossible. Sense began to gain a grip when I read this in Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within”: “It takes a while for our experience to sift through our consciousness. For instance, it is hard to write about being in love in the midst of a mad love affair. We have no perspective.”

In the midst of swirling chaos it is difficult to hear and heed the still, small voice urging us to analyze these things. What does this really mean to our lives? Is it central or peripheral, deep or shallow, long-lasting or temporary?

How much time and space do we dedicate to this?

Another vital question centers upon the amount of authority we are willing to grant others – others who, it must be said, are onlookers into our lives. They are not walking our path.

We must determine who is worthy of authority in our lives. Some people genuinely respect and advocate our welfare. Some people are born manipulators, excellent at distracting us with their dramas. These dramas prevent clarity of thought, clarity of perspective.

These manipulative dramas and distractions pull us, time and again, out of the moment. When we are centered on perceived dramas we risk losing focus on ‘what’s on our plate right now,’ which puts the next moment at risk. Too often manipulators have little, if any, regard for those of us minding our own business in our own moment.

These dramas usually arise when someone is heavily invested in a story concocted and nurtured about something they perceive to be the case rather than truly seeing and coming to understand their actual experience.

The period of disruption I mentioned, these past 2.5 years, has shown me in brilliant clarity just how my creative pursuits have impacted my consciousness. My creative pursuits keep me grounded in the moment and mindful of what is in my head and heart and what I am experiencing with others. I see the moment. I hear the moment.

As the ‘fortune’ in the photo indicates, ‘creative’ and ‘reactive’ are spelled with the same letters. The change in perspective, however, is immense.

All too often we experience our days and our relationships through the lenses of preconceived notions and the stories we’ve concocted in our heads. We forget to attend to what IS, and we find ourselves forever reacting because the actuality does not fit our notion of the situation.

The ‘creative seer’ encounters things and basically asks, ‘What is this? What am I to make of this?’ At this point I like Julia Cameron’s advice to watch without sound, or listen without visuals. Very enlightening, to be honest.

Alter your ego, alter your world.

Each of us is the author (author-ity) of our own story. Each of us charts our own path. We owe it to ourselves to choose to create our life rather than navigate from one knee-jerk response to the next. A considerable measure of peace arises when we exercise foresight and think things through – much better in hindsight than the despair, mockery, and shame of rash choices.

As I often invoke Will Shakespeare in my posts, let me now point to the devastation that arose when Othello gave authority to Iago’s malignant manipulative behavior.

“All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven.

‘Tis gone.

Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!

Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne

To tyrannous hate!”

Othello III.iii.505-509

I leave you with these words from the Sufi mystic Rumi:

“On this path, Love is the emerald,

the beautiful green that wards off dragons.

Enough, I am losing myself.

If you are a man of learning,

read something classic,

a history of the human struggle

and don’t settle for mediocre verse.”

“On the Deathbed,” Love Is A Stranger

Barbara Butler McCoy, 2018 – text

Barbara Butler McCoy, 2016 – photos

Goldberg, Natalie. “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.” Boston: Shambhala, 2005; Rumi (Kabir Edmund Helminski, translator). “Love Is A Stranger.” Putney, VT: Threshold Books, 1993; Shakespeare, William. “Othello.” New York: Washington Square Press, 1993.