You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club!

…said Jack London.
I’m back from my 3 month trip in search of inspiration (check the photography section for some impressions from California and NYC) and now it’s time to take action!
I just glanced at a few notes I had made prior to the journey, outlining the creative challenge I was hoping to tackle:

I have this fear, this nagging doubt – that everything’s been done already. Art, creative projects, business ideas. But when I see some of my friends’ or strangers’ creative output, I’m envious! I instantly get the urge to do something myself! So what is at the root of this lack of faith that my creative ideas / creations could be original or their quality “good enough”?

Maybe this trip will help: Before diving in without fully trusting my creativity, I’ll step back first, calm down, focus, gather strength, most of all: INSPIRATION and CONNECTION with myself and my relation to the world. If I fully felt that personal connection, I suppose it would be that which I’d express in my art or job pursuits. So hopefully I’ll come back with vigour and able to be more within doing – give my projects a purpose within themselves, for me personally. Then they will be original. Or the question of whether they can speak to others too will become secondary to me. (And besides, do they even need to be “original”? Doesn’t art keep repeating the same age-old human themes?)

Co-incidentally Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like An Artist that’s being featured all over the place right now addresses my questions exactly. And his answers are wonderfully reassuring:

These ideas apply to anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work. (That should describe all of us.) … Every artist gets asked the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” The honest artist answers, “I steal them.” … stop worrying about what’s “good” and what’s “bad” – there’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing… What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere… Nothing is completely original.

Kleon’s advice: “Don’t wait until you know who your are to get started.”

Right on. That’s exactly the attitude I feel taking root inside me now. I experienced inspiration and connection during my time away and now it’s a matter of continual PRACTICE. Just doing it! And remaining wary: not letting those self-defeating patterns of self-doubt and self-isolation and plain laziness creep back into my life.  I met people who are consciously trying to be creative and true to themselves in their thoughts and actions every day. People who open up and reach out to strangers – something that many people in my city seem to deny themselves, despite the apparently wide-spread longing for more connection. How can people have inspiring encounters and transform these into confident creativity if they don’t open up to the world, every day?

So here goes: Let’s remind ourselves to consciously reach out and reach within, to explore our full potential every single day! Let’s grab that club and hunt down inspiration!

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Travel updates!

Yo, check the “West Coast & NYC” pages for tales of indulgence and adventure in Big Sur, Yosemite and San Francisco – and a photographic addition to each of the previously published pages. The next two weeks are devoted to resting and family time in Oregon before the grand urban finale of my trip in New York City!

Update from across the Pond

I’m sorry I’ve been so bad about keeping this blog up to date. Being mostly off the grid, traveling these past two weeks and being so full up with impressions that I don’t even know how to start writing about them do not combine in favour of this blog. In short, I spent a highly inspiring, joyful and deeply touching week at the Esalen Institute on Big Sur taking a singing class with the wonderful Vernon Bush. I will eventually try to distill all of the wisdom that was imparted there concerning creativity and inspiration into a blog post here.

My stay at Esalen was followed up with a road trip back up and down Hw 1, really getting to know that overwhelmingly beautiful stretch of the coast until I felt it was “my Big Sur” :). And then heading on to Yosemite for four nights. Truly a “temple of nature” as John Muir called it. And it does look just like in Ansel Adam’s photos! Especially when the sun breaks through the clouds after a spell of rain. “Epic” seems an appropriate term to describe it. I will try to finally get some photos uploaded to the “West Coast” page and / or photography page ASAP. I’ll have more time now that I’m back at my dear Ojai Foundation for another 3 week volunteer stint. I am happy to be back here. For the first time in my life, I feel I couldn’t go on traveling just now. I am so overflowing with impressions and emotions from these past weeks, I need this quiet, familiar place now to process it all and let the beautiful seed that was sown grow roots in my heart.

Leaving / re-entering

As announced in the ‘About’ section, I’m about to go on a journey. I’m leaving Germany in a week to travel, volunteer and visit family in California, Oregon and New York City.

I’ve traveled  quite a bit and lived abroad before, and after the mandatory excitement, anticipation, last-minute hustle and also melancholy at the thought of leaving friends and places dear to me – suddenly today a feeling of near-comfort and contentment set in.  I know this about-to-go-on-a-journey state of being so well, it actually feels more like I’m re-entering a space that is familiar to me than leaving for the unfamiliar.

These past weeks, I had several random encounters and conversations with strangers and superficial acquaintances – they came to me in defiance of own social withdrawal. I have to admit that I usually try to avoid getting on the same train home with colleagues whom I don’t know well because I dread the tedium of forced small talk. But lately it was as if people were coming after me to refute my prejudices about them! And what do you know: They all had inspiring stories to tell about their own journeys and each one of them admired and encouraged my plans to leave me job in search of something “better”…

Fate giving me some support at last? The unconscious mind opening up to the world now that it’s “safer” because I’m about to leave? My conscious perception of self and world might refuse to agree to either of those propositions. Experience might tell me otherwise.

Be that as it may, my past travels have always led me to a happier and richer (inner and outer) place. I can’t wait to go out and broaden my horizon, and I wish that I’ll be able to transform that outer space into a spaciousness within which will be with me, be me, always, no matter what the circumstances.

I was recently introduced to the marvelous poetry and philosophy of David Whyte and the following poem could not be more appropriate to the beginning of my journey*:

 

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

 — David Whyte

 

*See David Whyte recite the poem at TED: http://youtu.be/5Ss1HuA1hIk