The book suggests that something destructive or shocking happens before new life emerges. Spiritual Literacy by the Brussatts talks about the bricks used to build houses in Hiroshima or Nagasaki we made from clay from the mountains. In the bricks were dormant seedpods. After the houses were destroyed and the bricks crumbled, the seedpods were free to become flowers in the midst of the rubble.
It seems to me that, after doing a big clean up or tidy (ablution-Jan 2) at the beginning of the year, the way is cleared for new projects or ideas. These ideas emerge because there is space for them emerge.
Sound is something that I know affects me in different ways. Things that are too loud or jarring make me want to get away from them. In my quiltmaking routine, I have certain radio shows that become background for the creative process. Other sounds and noise, even other, less familar shows can interrupt, or take time to adjust to their rhythm. My house is, usually, very quiet as is my neighborhood. I find this helps the creative process. Strangely, I appreciate the quiet, but like a little background noise.
“True stillness comes naturally from moments of solitude where we allow our minds to settle” is one of the lines in the reading on reflection for today. This is the feeling I find in my workroom: solitude, peace, positive ideas, possibilities. It does not come easily and having only bits of time to work is not conducive to finding that state of stillness where I can “listen” (??) to my creativity. Also, if I have not engaged in some kind of tidying (ablution??) before leaving my workroom the last time or before starting this newest session, and the place is a wreck, that stillness does not want to join me. Frankly, I don’t blame it!
I find that my mind leaves the dustballs and junk behind when I touch fabric, cut and sew. My mind begins to shake off the cobwebs of everyday life and bureaucracy and finds the space to see new ideas the longer I work.
The book also says “neither water nor the moon make any effort to achieve a reflection. In the same way, meditation will be natural and immediate.” For me, stillness takes time. I have found over the past couple of weeks of being free work and freeing myself from the must-dos has allowed me to work better. I didn’t ask it to come, it just came after a certain period of time. I was able to see quickly that the Hop, Skip & Jump pattern was not achieving my goal. I think it was, partially, because I had so much time to think about my colors and their relationship; to engage in the creative process. That is worthwhile.
The book says “if we have devotion – total faith and commitment to our spiritual [substitute craft for spiritual here!] path – our determination will naturally build momentum. Fewer and fewer obstructions will come before us. Our path becomes like a crooked one made straight. No matter what tries to keep us from our purpose we will not be deferred.”
I looked at this and thought creativity is totally about devotion, but had a hard time getting past the spiritual part until I realized that devotion means everything to me in terms of quiltmaking. There are different kinds of creative people who can all be said to be devoted to their craft or art. I think that the devotion truly comes when the person works on their creativity every day. The person devotes time every day to working on their creativity, art or craft.
Creativity is in all of us, but comes to the surface much easier with practice. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you get in front of the machine every day. It does mean engaging in some creative effort each day: reading quilt magazines, doodling, drawing, planning a new project, looking out the window of the bus at the world in terms of line, shape and color, ironing fabric, and, of course, cutting and piecing as well. The more one practices in some manner, the more easily the practice of creativity becomes.
Some regular activity keeps up the continuity of creativity.
I have to apologize to those of you who took me seriously when I said there was minimal ‘religion’ in this book. It is a Taoist book and today’s word does have quite a bit of the Taoist beliefs associated with it. I am not going to go into much of what the book said, but give you my interpretation. I wasn’t happy that this was the word of the day, but that’s life so I tried to think of ways ablution applied to quiltmaking.
The book talked about cleansing. When I go up to my workroom after several days of not being there, or after the end of a project, I have to tidy up and put things away. Sometimes I get so engrossed in a project that I have to tidy up in the midst of a project (especially if it involves lots of fabric!). I think that this is a kind of ablution in the quiltmaking process. While putting everything away, I often find myself thanking (I know this sounds dumb) my tools and supplies for their good performance on the last project while preparing my psyche, the space and the tools and supplies for the next project. It is a kind of ritual for me.
I have a book called 365 Tao. I have had it for several years and decided this year to read one page every day, and think about the word of the day in order to get inspired. Where appropriate to quilting, I will post the word of the day here for you to ponder as well.
It is really no big surprise to me that the word for the first day of the year is Beginning. It seems appropriate on January 1. The book says that before anyone can begin they have to make the decision to begin. This seems so basic, but I never thought of it like that. If I don’t decide to start a new project, I can’t begin it. Interesting to let rumble around in my mind.
The author writes that the beginning of a journey is always filled with hope, wonder, anticipation and excitement. This is also true, if you think about it. I was thinking about this in relation to the Hop, Skip & Jump quilt I started yesterday. Before I physically begin a project, but after I have decided to begin there is a lot of hope on how it will go (fast? easily?); wonder at how yardage can be turned into something different, comforting and useful; there is anticipation on the feel of the fabric in my hands and the skillful wielding of tools as well as the pleasure of seeing the pieces go together; and, finally, the excitement at starting a new project, using new fabrics and a new design.
Once you have started the project, the bloom is off. I face the reality of making the quilt; the maker is in the process. The hope, wonder, anticipation and excitement still exist, but they are very much in my head while the process is actually something that I physically do. Sadly, physical actions have to comply with the laws of space, time, physics, etc. For the HSJ project, I found that that the pieces had to each be cut individually because they use templates. It was not a surprise, because I looked at the book carefully before I started. Cutting pieces individually using templates is not bad, just different. I thought about whether or not to change the pattern to make it easier to rotary cut, too, as I mentioned and decided to leave the project as it was rather than modifying it. There is a certain calmness to templates. They force me to slow down somewhat. It is all just part of the process. The reality is always different than what is in my head, and often a splendid surprise.