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Creativity, Fragments, and the Vitalness of Play

March 17, 2018

"A fragment is not a fraction but a whole piece." - Lyn Hejinian

 

Have you read Lyn Hejinian's experimental and intensely mind blowing memoir-ish book, My Life?


I read it years ago and it changed the way I thought about language, art-making, creation, and the ways in which I encounter the world.

 

So if we're talking energy -- there's the feminine/yin/wild/universal energy of creation and there is the masculine/yang/organizing principle. Our culture tends to favor the organization. The logic. The making-sense-of-it-all energy.

 

What I love about Hejinian (and so many other writers and artists that I admire) is her commitment to revealing the fragmentary as truth. Her writing is often imbued with a specific aura of mystery and beauty that lives in the honesty of fragments. One quote that stuck with me forever: "Undone is not not done."

 

In my experience, so much of the creative process can get stifled when we focus too much on the idea of completeness, polish, and wholeness. This kind of thinking can lead to constriction and the opposite of creative energy -- destruction. We know from yogic philosophy that we are always either creating, destroying, or maintaining. One of the essences of creative energy is the wild, appearing-from-nowhere, momentary fragment. And there is wholeness and polish in that when we really look. Sometimes it's okay to leave things alone.

 

The process is the work. It seems obvious but it took me a long time to embody this. Lyn Hejinian's work, which reveals her thought process in such depth and generosity, urged me to see the way I was stifling my own work by being obsessed with outcome instead of process. The idea of a finished product is often just the ego trying to work its way into the equation. When we are too focused on the future outcome, we lose the element of play. Play is central to creative thinking and renewal. Remember when we were kids and we were all artists? That's because it was fun -- traipsing around with crayons and markers and turning everyday objects into toys. It's super easy to lose this playful energy when "grow up."

 

Meditation is one way to access this original playful flow. One of the reasons I love guided visualizations and other forms of meditation is that things come up. You know -- those weird scenes from childhood or yesterday or never-before-seen footage from another life. Those thoughts or images or mutterings that we are told to "acknowledge and then let pass." It's a bit like cleaning out your hard drive. But, as an artist and scavenger -- I have found that when we alternate between meditative states and creative flow (writing, talking, drawing, etc) we can use those bits of lodged energy -- those jewels disguised as trash -- to expand our consciousness and access that play state again. The fragmentary, feminine, wild, abundant artist that is very much alive and too oft ignored.

 

I'm leading a workshop at Ra Ma NYC on March 25th which will focus more deeply on these topics. Sign up here: Alchemization School.

 

You can also work with me virtually in an Alchemization Session, where we address your own specific needs. 

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