Posts Tagged ‘creativity


facing north, then facing south

no matter which i angle i go at it

no matter how hard i look for my voice (for this particular tale from my past)

there is nothing. i can’t decide if it’s because the time was too perfect, i was too happy; if writing about happiness is more difficult than writing about any other emotion. what i’ve managed to conjure up is unsustainable. i’ve left it for a couple of weeks hoping that inspiration would strike (me dead), but there seems to be nothing to say about it that doesn’t sound stupid, inane, peurile. the best thing for me now is to let it go and maybe one day it’ll all fall together or  it won’t and that chapter will be a blank page where my happiness once lay.


post script

p.p.s. for those of you who may find it difficult to read this, it may be easier if you click on it for its full size.


it’s the orchid, you *^&%@#!

it seemed so simple.  a perfect idea with the perfect image to illustrate the point. what could go wrong, you might ask yourself.   and i’m not talking about myself in the third person, i’m actually talking about you.   yes, you.  sitting there in the comfort of your ________ or at the local __________ where the wireless is free and the ________ are beautiful/handsome or both.  you may even be at your local public ______, but that seems a stretch, perhaps too last century and possibly a little creepy anymore, besides who do you know that actually takes advantage of the knowledge available at the ________.  It’s been at least 20 years for me since i was inside one and then i rarely had any conversation with the _________ because i knew what i was after and how to use the dewey decimal system (god, do you remember?)  although i can conjure up the smell of old _____ and waxed linoleum and the quiet scratch of the ladder as it moved along its support system–the children’s area carpeted and all of the furniture scaled down to pint-size–which you wanted to go sit in as an adult, because, well just because, but the actual reason is that for one minute it would be comforting to be a child again and not have anxieties beating on the door of your adulthood (or do they pound?  mine come in a variety pack–like those individual servings of cereal that your mother used to buy–the cornflakes always the last to go because they didn’t have the sugar punch the others did. mea culpa the mixed metaphor btw.)

but instead, here you are as i said, in the comfort of your underwear (admit it) and if not that then, the comfort of somewhere else where all of the world’s knowledge (or so you’ve been told) is at your fingertips, which reminds me, when was the last time you actually got your hands dirty with dirt?  and had to use that odd little rasp that swings out from your nail clipper to clean underneath the nails and got a good whiff of loam up your nose or pollen from a faded rose as the petals, at your touch, dropped away from the stamen, one, two, three.  (that is still a question.)  that is just one example, there are so many others:  touch, listen, see, feel, smell (food, music, sex, art, skin, theater, words you have written, the touch of your lover’s hand in yours).

use it or lose it.   after all, it is the scariest of all admonitions, is it not? (that question is for both you and i.)  and then there is the keyboard that is the obstacle (albeit a necessary one).  do i cop out here and say, “what i’m saying is get out, experience life”, which seems too easy , too trite and not truly addressing what the problem, as i see it, is.  (was there a problem?  oh yes, it was where were the words going to come from?) and it’s not like i haven’t addressed this subject before and yet they do, don’t they?   show up eventually.  sometimes unintentionally, sometimes with purpose, the brother that never quite fit into the groove of the family, the wanderer who shows up on your doorstep, “hi, i was passing through and thought i’d drop by and say hello and see the kids,” and you open your arms and take him in.


any other day

how predictable is your saturday?

does anyone ever accuse you of having your head in the clouds?

i’m curious to know what you’re response is when that happens.  do you apologize?  do you ignore them?  as soon as the moment passes, are you back to your reverie?

this is a photograph of billy in the moonlight that i took last night as he was sleeping by the open window in my bedroom.  the curtains had been pulled back so that more air (any breeze, really) could enter unencumbered by even the thinnest of sheers.  i know, you think my wits have left me, but you must believe me when i tell you that is a photograph of billy in the moonlight.  or you could consider this photograph a palate/palette cleanser.

but back to our topic of discussion: reverie, day-dreaming (even night-dreaming), head-in-the-clouds.  have you ever considered following those fantasies?  letting them become your reality?  would that frighten you or would it make you feel good?

on the one hand, your real life does have boundaries and perhaps your dreams do not.  how can you take those dreams though and express them within those boundaries?  if you look at your real life and its structure, a structure that you have to work within (a discipline, if you will) could you not accept that as the outline of your creativity?    i’m curious.  you tell me.


what i don’t know about creativity

i know that it is always just below the surface of your skin (dare i say bubbling?) that skein of milk as it warms in a pan on the stove for hot chocolate, the pot set askew on the flame so that one side boils faster than the other.  it’s a balloon on the surface, & with its little ‘plomp’ it bursts & divides & spreads across the surface, multiple events, all of which are difficult to track, one by one, but relative to the objective, combine to create the smell of warm milk, comfort anticipated, frost on the kitchen window as the steam adds a layer of mica to the glass & distorts the outside world (pleasantly so.)

it’s there in the darkness.   you climb the mountain to the ascetic waiting patiently to distill the essence of being, but he tells you that it was within you all the time, dormant, unbidden, unloved (the repression of adults, who in a fit of pique deny your creativity with abject praise or complete indifference.)  the darkness of the cave is a refuge of what you do not know, repression like hibernation.   the sunlight of creating warms the front of your cave, you start to feel it on the bristles of your beard & it leaks under the lashes & lids of your eyes shut tight against the waking.

it struts & preens like a cock before a hen, “choose me, choose me,” it crows but you turn your back to it, its promise of blooming fields of flowers displayed in the fan of its tail, the orgasm of mating, that quick mount & sudden shock of release pushed back, sublimated after years of no, that won’t do, that’s not very good, that won’t make you a living, don’t waste your time, don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t, the rhythm of the blood in your temples (is it any wonder they call that spot on either side of your head ‘the temple’, its where a crown would rest, your god-head.)

but it is still there after all.  it bleeds into what you do everyday, little leaks, a tear drop, a runny nose, just as a reminder that it exists, perhaps it is even an irritant, a pebble under the 3rd toe of your left foot in a shoe that pinches at the arch, a splinter of wood that evades extraction, floating just under the skin “i can see it!” so that you have to tear away a layer of resistance to ease the suffering it causes you (too small to cause real pain, too big to be ignored, after all, a finger is forgotten until its easy use is denied you.)

this blog represents the longest, most consistent spurt of creativity i have had since adulthood.   of course, i have not spent my life denying my creative nature, but i have put it on hold here & there, letting it pop out (as it did in 1980 when i created the works that accompany this post.)  it’s not that i am not creative in my day-to-day existence, i am (at least i like to believe that,) but what i want to say is that this time, here, at the keyboard, has been a boon to me, i like to think of it as a place where ideas get worked out, thought out, said out loud (even if i’m the only one reading them,) a place where my creativity gets to go for a walk in the sunshine (& sometimes in the rain.)

you should try it, even if you think you might get wet (or cry, or laugh, or tire from the climb, or suffer the indignities of day-to-day existence, a pebble here, a splinter there.)


winter (reflections on pruning)

in a complete reversal of habit (whether this is a good habit or a bad habit i will not comment,) i spent yesterday ‘off the grid’ as it were (just tiny little bits of time online at the beginning of the day & at the end.)  instead i turned my attention to the garden, specifically the 28 rose plants.  it is the weekend for pruning, mulching, feeding them.  now if i lived above “x” latitude, i would have done this sometime in late september or early october, but i don’t.  & about this time each year (early january) i grab a bag of steer manure, a bag of mulch, the pruning shears & some little granules of ‘medicine’ (a cap full per plant) & head outside & minister to the roses.

this entails much bending, toting, kneeling, clipping, swearing (when one’s clothes get caught on the thorns) & results in sore legs,  lower back muscles in revolt, multiple scratches on one’s hands & forearms.  but in a couple of months the rewards of one’s labor will be apparent as the roses explode into a riot of blossoms.  obviously completely worth the agony & the forced break from following, <3ing, re-tweeting, FBing, blogging & any other digital diversion that the 21st century has foisted upon us–such seductive drugs–i take this time to talk to them, offering encouraging words, life-coaching as it were, “won’t you be the belle of the ball when spring comes & your display bursts from your thorny arms & legs, a gown of scent & saturated color?” now, i don’t often say these words out loud, it is more of a psychic inference, little waves of thought (please visualize), rays of love & understanding.

for many years when i lived ‘up north’, i regarded the winter season (specifically january – march) as ‘my’ season.  it was the time of year i felt i was at my peak intellectually, physically, emotionally, creatively.  i was quicker, handsomer, steadier, wittier (just sharper overall.)  there is the drama of the winter season that i think appeals to me on those levels as well.  one enters from out-of-doors in a burst of frigid air, snow flurries a cape behind you, your cheeks flushed & then you start the unwrapping process (winter clothes are the best); hat, gloves, scarves, parka or dress coat or fur, all that padding a seed pod peeled back to reveal the flower underneath.   who is not charmed by that?

i liked the way all people delicately make their way across a frozen urban landscape (the rural winter’s are another matter altogether.)   manly men tip-toeing their way across an icy sidewalk (think fernando botero’s over-inflated senors & senoras) hats held with one hand all the while using their other arm, held out so delicately, a funambulist’s balance pole , or those who are bundled up to such an extent that their movements are circumscribed (michelin men) but somehow manage to ballet their way down the street.   that first tentative step off the curb (slush, no slush, that is the question), the rush of wind winding a wool scarf tight around a neck, that breathlessness of an arctic blast all enervated me, so different from the lethargy of summer, it made me feel so alive.

i wonder now, after all these years in more temperate climes (after the ‘new’ has worn off) if winter brings me to that same rush of good feeling.   already this year it has been much colder than previous years & it has reminded me of those days/months/years with their winter-y ice storms & feet of snow & crunching my way to the ‘el’ in boots, long satin-lined winter coat swinging frictionless against my wool clad legs.  but now, it seems more a burden than a joy, to pile on the wool hat, the winter coat, the scarf (no gloves, yet) just to walk the dogs, empty the garbage, get to the car.  i hate to think i’m spoiled.  i hate to think that i’ve lost that joy.  i hate to think that i’ve been pruned too severely to ever bloom again.


what i learned (art & the human spirit)

with all the talk of diminishing returns on education in the united states & the slashing of budgets for many core curricula as well as extracurricular programs caused by the economic downturn, it was particularly heartening last night to be reminded how much art (one of the first things to be deemed unnecessary when school administrators & school boards bring out their budget axes. whack!) can be the salvation of so many.

that art (& i am not only talking about the visual arts, but all of the arts: music, drama, literature, dance) has the power to transform individuals’ lives, but also to release them from their prisons (made manifest by disease or social stigma) & allow them to move forward in life because they have found a way to communicate with the world around them is dismissed as inconsequential to the greater good of society is a mistake that is too often made by those with the power to determine the course of young people’s lives.   for shame.

when the voice of one child is quieted by the ignorance of an adult, it destroys what i would deem a sacred duty, a duty that each of us should hold dear, one that we should be held accountable for; that there is room in our world for all voices, regardless of how that voice comes to be.  to deny our society the benefit of creativity is surely the first sign (of many signs) that we are sliding irrevocably toward insignificance.

one can only hope, that the need to express one’s self through the arts will be too strong to destroy & that little by little, enough people will be able to see past their fears (the arts: unquantifiable = unnecessary!) & embrace their own creativity (we all have it, truly) & tend it, letting it flower as it should, in its own time & at its own pace.  we’ll be better human beings for it.




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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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