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“Recovering a Sense of Integrity”

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It has been a rocky road that I have been traveling on. I have passed the familiar landmarks and feel as though I am perched on the edge of the rabbit hole. I feel a great sadness for all that I have lost along the way, but more than anything I feel fear of what I am to do next, what is down this road, and whether or not I am ready. Fear grows like a weed, choking out the acceptance of possibility and putting in roots that take the form of illusion and denial. I broke it off with denial some time ago, but its idiosyncrasies remain like a thick resin. I try desperately to scrub it off, unaware of what is yet to shine underneath.

I’m not so certain that these emotions and images have as much to do with my current position on my life path as I portray them to. I think they have been there for sometime, but I have become too comfortable with keeping them silent. My weeks continue with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She is not a fool. She knows too well that people who have neglected their creativity have been ignoring so much more, something waiting to be encountered.

“Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows.”

She knows that we have developed habits that enable us to continue ignoring the bits of ourselves that desperately need to be heard. That’s why this week my assignment is to undergo reading deprivation. Yes that’s right, no reading.


Cameron explains,

“For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried. It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions we are actually filling the well. Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world. With no newspaper to shield us, a train becomes a viewing gallery. With no novel to sink into (and no television to numb us out) an evening becomes a vast savannah in which furniture— and other assumptions— get rearranged. Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill with new words— long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion. We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static. In practicing reading deprivation, we need to cast a watchful eye on these other pollutants. They poison the well. If we monitor the inflow and keep it to a minimum, we will be rewarded for our reading deprivation with embarrassing speed. Our reward will be a new outflow. Our own art, our own thoughts and feelings, will begin to nudge aside the sludge of blockage, to loosen it and move it upward and outward until once again our well is running freely. Reading deprivation is a very powerful tool— and a very frightening one. Even thinking
about it can bring up enormous rage. For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.”

The first two days were interesting, kind of like getting orientated to new surroundings. No reading books, articles, and blogs. I kept my email and social media to a minimum. On Christmas Day, I gave myself leeway as I perused the cookbooks that we unwrapped from under the tree. Today was the hardest. I wanted that tranquilizer. I wanted that little piece of imagined peace to envelope me and give me some sort of false promise of what the future holds. As if anyone or anything really knew.

Tomorrow, I know not what to expect. I guess it is during this point when we find ourselves in the dark that we are holding the hand of faith, and with it we shall overcome the fear.


About Rachel

Rachel is an independent artist and writer who thrives on sharing her deep appreciation for the natural world. She has taught college courses in wildlife identification, ethnobotany, environmental science, natural resource management, and cultural studies. She lives in North Dakota with her two boys, husband, dog, and cats. She enjoys gardening, cooking, drawing, writing, hunting, hiking, and snowshoeing, but is usually too tired to do any of these, except for writing...

3 responses »

  1. Nice writing – very interested blog.

    I’m not sure it his applies to you particular situation, but I’m going to express it anyway.

    I find,sometimes, that reading other peoples blogs (that interest me) tends to act as a catalyst to my own creativity. I have often found that during the process of leaving a reply to someone else, I realize, that what I am writing would make a good blog piece that might be inspiring or interesting to others.

    The subject of our writing is where the fear lies. It’s not the fear of writing bad English, but that the ideas we express are so far out on a limb that others will think us ridiculous or worse – completely insane.

    Oh well this is the burden of many writers. What to write about and, more importantly, what not to write about. The process of making those write or not write decisions is all a wonderful process of self discovery. Sooner or later we find out more about who we really are, what we really stand for and what is really important to us. This is the path to our freedom from fear. Definitely, it is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.

  2. Pingback: Recovering a Sense of Faith | Pages of Paradigm

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