Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? Isn’t that what we’re told? Twelve-step programs have become mainstream, offering a wealth of information for anyone struggling with any kind of addiction. Tried and true advice. It can work.
What about admitting you have a gift being the first step to the rest of your life?
I’m reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit right now. Synchronous, really, how I got it. My husband and I went to our local bookstore to conclude our child-free days over the winter break. One of the people I am glad to call a friendly acquaintance happened to be working there. We got to talking. Those of you who know me well know it doesn’t take long to get to reality, to what’s truly important when in sincere conversation with me. We shared a bit of our lives with each other. It was lovely.
I confessed to her that I am a writer. I confessed that I really hadn’t read all that many books. I confessed that my husband and I wanted to support our local bookstore more. We spoke each other’s language. I wasn’t burned at the stake. In fact, as I browsed the shelves, she approached me again and put a book in my hands. “You have to read this,” she said. The owner of the store, working at a table behind me, assured me that is was a highly recommended book; the dance troupe last in town bought 14 copies. This was Tharp’s book.
Within the past couple of months, I have come to the realization that if I am most honest with myself, I am happiest when writing. At home, in the woods, at the park, in the doctor’s office — anywhere I can put pen to paper (or finers to keys) and be alone with my thoughts. But I have more to learn. I have discipline to cultivate. I have unhealthy habits to overcome.
The Creative Habit comes along, and right off the bat she’s talking about the importance of routine. She can’t make me get up at 5:30, but she states quite clearly that her morning starts out at 5:30AM. She does it. Others do it, and artists have for centuries. They are extremely productive.
Almost in passing, she refers to a moment in time when she thought she could have been a painter; she has a talent for the visual arts. She let the thought go as quickly as it came. She’s a dancer. She goes on to say that it’s almost better to have one clearly defined talent in your life. It’s harder for those who can do many things well. The discernment of your best gift is only harder the more choices you have.
Did she know I was going through this right now? That for some time I’ve been wondering if the crafts I’ve been making were actually good for my creative process or an accomplice to my nasty habit of procrastination?
I am in process of organizing my craft supplies. Some I need, some I don’t. Scraps of fabric are going to my sister-in-law who makes clothes for children. I’m keeping the bulks of fabric for skirts for myself and for the girls. Good skirts are hard to come by and expensive should you actually find them. Necessity and creativity are good companions. Now I need to organize my stamps. Which ones do I need and use? Which stationary do I need to keep. What will nurture my writing, encourage me to write? It needs to be an accessory to my writing, an embellishment.
Inasmuch as I enjoy doing other things, I have to accept the fact that I’m a writer foremost. This is the greatest part of my priesthood in this life. I believe that through my writing, I have the potential to reach others and convey to them some of the Truths in this life.
The page is my blank canvas. The Love of God is my muse. With every word I bare my soul and make myself vulnerable, but I have nothing to lose. As sure as the cold brings the beauty of snow and the grips of death, I trust that this experience of life is meant to be shared. For some, it’s meant to be shared through dance, sculpture, painting, music, or any of the arts, but for me, I accept the fact that I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to put into words that which is completely inexplainable. I’ll enjoy every moment of the painful growth as I stretch my imagination and probe the depths of experience.
Whether a gift or a curse, I accept it with a smile. May I remember this at 5:30 in the morning.