Creativity is like crossing from one side of the canyon to the next.
In 1999 I set off on an adventure to the US of A. This came after I had graduated from University and legged it to North Queensland and realised that, maybe, just maybe being a Registered Nurse, wasn’t really my thing!
I signed up to be an ‘outdoor educator’ in a wee Summer Camp in upstate New York.
Seemed that my nursing background, gave me the pick of the jobs at that summer camp! Especially because I had been working in Paediatrics!
The organising of the position was pretty straight forward. Nailed the interview. Loved the allocated camp. Tickets all sorted. Visa sorted. Nightshifts at the hospital all booked up to rally some more cash before I went, check! Yep. All go.
I thought I’d check out the Grand Canyon and the like before I started working, so I booked a Contiki Tour of the West Coast. Is there still such a thing as Contiki? God, showing my age all over the place.
We trekked the West Coast. The adventure was deluxe for the little Aussie!
Louise, another little Aussie traveller and I clicked from the moment I arrived late to the accommodation on the first day. I’d gotten a little off track when I arrived, wanting to check out Universal Studios before I got to my accommodation. They were both in Anaheim so thought I was all over it. AAAAAAAnyway….I eventually made it to the Contiki location…last (I am used to being late) and knocked on her door. “Hi, I know I’m late, so sorry. It’s Jen”. This beautiful girl opened the door. We hugged. We laughed. The rest is history.
The Grand Canyon is like nothing I have had the opportunity to witness! As we exited the bus, we were awestruck. Up until that point, we had seen some amazing natural creations on our travels. But the Grand Canyon. Not a word we could gather seemed to capture what we were looking at.
Recently I was listening to an interview between Marie Forleo and Todd Henry, author of “Louder than Words” and he gave this most awesome analogy of navigating the creative terrain.
If we look at the creative process like navigating a canyon.
We look across from the top of the canyon and see the other side. The side you want to get there. And to get there, we have to head down the canyon.
We start. We are slightly inhaled. Not breathing deeply. We start tentatively. Cautiously. And as we gain confidence and trust, we gather some momentum and fall into a bit of rhythm. We enjoy the view. We breath a little deeper. We look around..yes, we are doing this thing!
It’s down hill. There are some obstacles. We overcome them.
We reach the bottom. It begins to get dark. It is dry at the bottom. It is quiet. And the mind begins to imagine there is all sorts of dangerous things there.
We wonder what the hell we are doing? Why did we start this journey? It is too far to go back. We doubt ourselves. The top of the canyon that we had our eye on at the beginning is SO far away. It feels like we may never get there.
What to do?
This is what the creative process ABSOLUTELY feels like to me.
I am constantly coming up with new ideas and a lot of them, I follow. And ALWAYS I find myself at the bottom of the canyon.
Like right now.
At the bottom of the canyon it can feel lonely. It can feel like we have made the wrong decision. That the universe is conspiring against us. That we are on the wrong path. We question what our purpose actually is. We can feel dejected. Tired. Burnt out.
I am in the process of adjusting my path (yet again) as I challenge myself to carve my way to the top of the canyon. It is a long way up. It is not the charted path so I continue to carve my own.
In the silence of the bottom of the canyon, we can hear our inner call. The truth that reminds us to go within to be reminded of what is most important to us and what we stand for.
And as I wait in the bottom of the canyon I rest for a bit. Exhale and inhale deeply. Revisit the path upward.
And, when the dawn breaks I leave again.
The path is unknown.
But the adventure is worth it.
And I can’t wait.
Don’t believe the voices that haunt you in the depths of your canyon journey.
Let me remind you, that your purpose here is not an external purpose. But a inner purpose that only you know.
What matters to you most, deep in your heart?
What do you love more than you love yourself?
What do you stand for?
Before you begin the ascent, ponder these questions to guide you home.
See you at the top.
Oh and PS. The word Louise and I came up with? Austengruty. Yep. That is our word to describe the Grand Canyon!!
Oh and PPS, if you want to listen to the interview I was talking about, you can find it here.