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— Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

i

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill — more of each

than you have — inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

iii

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came. —

Wendell Berry

We are here to wake up and then to celebrate. That’s all we are here for.
Leonard Jacobson

As creators, we need to have confidence in our instincts. We need to know how to set aside our worries and just follow the breadcrumbs through the forest. Writer’s block is just worry that we don’t know where we’re going. I don’t think we have to know. Our destination is to be discovered by going. Eventually we’ll look back and realize we were always going where we ended up.

We have an inner compass and an inner compass user, but we can lose touch with them when we fret that we don’t know what to create. I really do believe we think that because we don’t know how to wait and listen. The creative impulses can’t be forced or coerced. They must be found by being quiet and following the next thing to appear.

It’s easier than people think if you can just be receptive and not criticize what appears in your mind. You can edit and refine later. The first stage is simply cocking an ear toward subtle feelings and the ideas they are connected to.

I understand that for some folks that’s easier said than done, but the question is why. We often have an adversarial relation with our deeper selves, which makes cooperation a lot more difficult. A good way to proceed is to just get the process started with a word or stroke of paint or a musical note and see where it leads, playing along the way. Instead of sweating bullets, it’s better to enjoy the trip, to have fun along the way, whatever fun is to you.

Our unconscious mind is not a wayward child who must be silenced. It’s more like an oracle or wise one who sees farther and deeper than our conscious mind can — assuming that we are reasonably healthy.

With freedom can come surprises. You may discover themes and subjects close to your heart, and following them makes things more clear. In that exploration you learn who and what you are. You may start to see how you contribute something that has a slant only you can give.

Living as creators in a world that is demanding all hands on deck requires us to give what we can, what we are naturally built to give to the world. The split between feeling and thought in our culture is lived out in each of us. If we are going to help heal the world, we need to bridge that gap in ourselves.

That’s our job as creative, sensitive people. That’s how we can step up in this time of emergency. The world has become blind. If we restore our own sight we have a chance to help the world see again.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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