Between an overly long and complicated house move, and an overly long and complicated bout of illness, it feels as though I've spent the last months away on a long and difficult journey, traveling by foot and ship and dog sled to Antarctica and back. Returning to the office/studio again, and back to my writing-painting-thinking self, is as bittersweet as any homecoming after a lengthy, weary trip: the sweet joy and relief of being back tempered by dismay at all the dust and cobwebs that have built up in ones absence. There are jobs to catch up on, letters to answer, apologies to tender ("Dear Sir or Madam, I'm terribly sorry that I dropped off the face of the earth these last few months..."), patient friends to get back in touch with . . . and the hardest and most imperative task: to re-discover, and settle back into, my own Creative Self.
Those of you who also live with chronic health issues will know this cycle all too well: the periodic abrupt Absences followed by laborious, apology-strewn Returns as we pick up the threads of life again. . . and the threads of ourselves again.* Over the years, we learn to recognize the things that can help to ease us back into the world. One of the things I find useful at such times is to read nonfiction about art, literature, myth, and the creative process; this gets the dusty, rusty gears in my brain creaking back into motion. Sometimes I re-read old favorites in this vein (Lewis Hyde's The Gift, for example; or David Abram's Spell of the Sensuous), finding fresh treasures within with each re-reading. Other times I seek out (or stumble across) something new to fire my imagination -- such as two terrific books sitting on my desk now that I'll post about at a later date. (Sorry, that's a bit of a tease, I know, but I need to keep today's post short.)
The Internet can also be a source of inspiration, if one knows where to look for it -- such as Arts & Letters Daily, a portal site linking to essays and articles posted elsewhere on the web; and TED.com, offering short videos of talks on a wide variety of subjects. (Isabelle Allende discussing passion, for example, or Amy Tan on creativity). I subscribe to TED, and yet I somehow manged to miss the excellent video above - in which Elizabeth Gibert discusses creativity, genius, inspiration, myth, faeries, and much more. I'm grateful to Amal El-Mohtar (editor of Goblin Fruit) for mentioning it to me. I absolutely love it. . . and suspect that you will too.
* If you're interested in health issues in relation to myth and storytelling, the Winter 2006 issue of the Journal of Mythic Arts was devoted to this theme.