In yoga class tonight, the instructor read a Chinese quote that I posted on Twitter: “When the winds of change come, will you build walls to protect yourself, or windmills to harness the energy?” Since this is my last post for 2010, and, as some of you are, as I’m looking forward to 2011, all I can see, is change.
In an awkward pose, I can see where I put up walls, “Wait a minute, this isn’t how we usually do this.” (Thanks, Rachel!) I came back to breath, and harnessed the energy that the pose created. Next Monday, when I return to my classroom, it won’t be to teach a class. After 19 1/2 years of being a classroom teacher, I’ll be running the Learning Resource Center. It was my idea, and I’ve garnered support from the principal and most of the rest of my department. We have a brief outline of how my days will look, knowing that I will be servicing a larger population and spending more time doing what I would only do on occasion. I’ll be seeing more general ed. teachers and meeting with more parents and students. My hope, and that of those that supported this change, is that we can increase the success of students. What we had been doing wasn’t working, and so we’re changing. Of course, the most important part of this is to check in often to see what, if any, positive outcomes develop.
In my experience, nothing is permanent. Not a feeling, a condition, a relationship, or even our own bodies. Everything is changing all the time, it just depends on whether or not we notice. As I look back on 2010, and what I’ve noticed in regards to my creativity, I can say that a lot has changed. I change where I write. It used to be my kitchen table, now it is anywhere but the table. I’ve changed how often I write, and even the level of description during particular scenes in my books. I write more prose than poetry, and nearly none of it has been nonfiction. During my time with the writing group, I’ve changed from using third person, to using first person.
Last week, we had a White Elephant gift exchange at the writing group. I had an old zipper folder that only had a spiral notebook in it that was part lined paper, and part graph paper. I stopped off at a crafts store and purchased a small set of watercolor paints, a box of pastel chalk, a new pen, and a couple of pads of paper, one for watercolors and one for sketching. For about $12, I had offered the recipient a range of medium with which to express the changes that they see around them. And if they were used to writing, they could change to paint, or to chalk. Or, they could use a combination of the three. Before I left the paper aisle, I grabbed a couple of pads for me, then went back and gathered another watercolor palette and a bigger box of chalk. I, too, feel the need to change how I see the world around me. Not everything is coming to me in action on my movie screen. Some things are still, like the wavy lines of pale, colored chalk or the charcoal sketch of aspen tree trunks over a soft, diluted watercolor green. I’ve never been ‘good’ at drawing in the conventional sense, but then I’ve always wanted to make my sketch look “picture perfect”, like a duplication of the real thing, but how can that be when change is everywhere? Referring back to yoga, “everything is perfect the way it is”, whether the sketches of my horses are unbalanced, or people’s faces are more comical than realistic, in that moment of creation, it is perfection. And in the blink of an eye, it changes. Our perceptions, the light falling across the object, the wind moving the leaves of the tree, reminds us that nothing we perceive is permanent.
With 2011 only days away, I invite you to change. Alter what you wear when you play guitar, cut up vegetables, or mold clay. Change the time of day you write your poetry, or change the type of poetry you write from rhyming to free verse or haiku. Change your medium, as I intend to do with watercolors, charcoal, and pastels. If you photograph people, change to still life or livestock. If you dance ballet, take a tap or tango class. The winds of change are always blowing. Do you notice them? Will you build walls to remain in the same rut, the same habit (“samskaras” in Sanskrit), or will you construct windmills, and harness that energy that is always flowing, influencing our lives and our perceptions and our passions? As always, there is no right or wrong, and there never is in creativity. Remain the same, and notice how it makes you feel, then alter a little, taste the change, see if your windmill doesn’t begin to turn, and if you’re brave, for artistic creativity requires great courage, allow yourself to be carried by the moving air, whether for you it is a zephyr or gale-force wind. And notice how it makes you feel. More alive? More joy? More fear? All of those and more I share in my short stories and poems and novels available on my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com Visit, be courageous and make a change, then leave a comment if you’ve built a wall, or a windmill.