Wed 8 Feb 2012
This is an intermittent series by the author about her journey through Julia Cameron’s Walking in This World.
by Beth Lee -Browning
Yesterday I started out with a plan and it turned into an adventure. The original idea was to “kill two birds with one stone” by going to the Garden of Reflection, a local memorial for the victims of 9/11 for both my “Weekly Walk” and my “Artists Date.”
I know that’s not exactly what Julia Cameron intended when she asked me to commit to regular use of the three basic tools of The Artists Way during the twelve week journey through Walking in This World , but I rationalized it by telling myself that it would be better to combine them than to skip one. As it turned out I didn’t combine them at all and the outcome was delightful and it was just the right way to conclude week four, Discovering a Sense of Adventure.
The previous chapters were introduced with words like “initiate,” “inaugurate,” and “aim,” words that convey action but feel easy. This week’s introduction felt anything but easy: “This week you are asked to jettison some of your personal baggage.”
She went on to explain that the exercises are intended to help gain a greater insight into the things that get in the way of feeling a sense of personal freedom and creativity, things we may not even be aware of. She said, “You will focus on self-acceptance as a route to self-expression.”
Julia stated, “Humans are by nature adventurous.” She spoke of toddlers exploring, teenagers testing limits, and grandmothers touring Russia. And how we often “ignore our very nature. . .calling it ‘adulthood’ or ‘discipline,’ ” which can take on the “form of a stubborn, self-involved crankiness” as a result of turning our back on the child that lives within us.
I’ve come to realize that somewhere along the way I lost my wonder and curiosity, I lost my sense of adventure and “lightness.” Life became about the schedule, the goals, and the perceived expectations. I had a career to build, a family to support, kids to raise, and an image to uphold. I thought I had to be “perfect,” I didn’t allow myself to be “me.” I lived in the future and not in the moment.
I read and re-read the section entitled, The Verb “To Be.” I remembered in the previous chapter the author pointed out that “ ‘Art’ is a form of the verb ‘to be.’ ” I absorbed her words: “ ‘Art’ is less about what we could be and more about what we are than we normally acknowledge. When we are fixated on getting better, we miss what it is we already are.” A week and several drafts of this paragraph later, it dawned on me that she’s not just talking about writing, painting, or composing; she’s talking about living and about appreciating who we are, not wishing we were better.
Nothing in my life has been done “according to plan,” but I realize now that it also hasn’t happened by accident. In the times that I acknowledged my true desires, committed myself to an idea, followed my intuition, believed in myself, and had faith, somehow against all odds, I succeeded.
The final section made me wonder how Julia knew about my daily internal debate: how do I pursue getting published (and paid for it)? Do I follow the practical methods prescribed by the books I’ve read and the classes I’ve taken or do I follow my intuition, write what I love and hope that if I continue to “build it,” it will come?
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Over the past year, I’ve waffled between being excited and discouraged about the thought of writing query letters and articles as a means to an end (the end being to be published and paid for it), to have a second career, to become a writer. When I began taking classes the idea excited me and the constraints of topics assigned through lessons and within the narrow needs of a publication felt comfortable and I “knew” what I should write. But now, the more I write what I want without direction or constraints, the happier I am and the more I “know” what I should write.
I take hope in the author’s belief that, “Since each of us is one-of-a-kind, the market, for all its supposed predictability, is actually vulnerable to falling in love with any of us at any time.”
There seems to be something in each chapter that is specifically for me. Creating the collage last week sparked a latent desire within me to draw. My favorite task this week was “Draw Yourself to Scale,” the assignment was to buy a sketch book, a new artist’s tool. One intended to help me freeze time and to capture life’s adventures as I live them. It now contains six pencil drawings.
In my other blog, I’m known as Tinkerbeth and I often refer to my world as Never Never Land, which ironically is the home of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up and is always having an adventure. Being a “child at heart” doesn’t equal being irresponsible or un-adult like, it means it’s ok to do something just because it delights us.
Discovering a Sense of Adventure, is not about bungee jumping, mountain climbing, or parasailing. It’s stepping over a chain link fence and venturing onto property marked private to take pictures of an abandoned radio station and drinking in the beauty that surrounds you instead of panicking when you get lost trying to find the Garden of Reflection. It’s about taking risks, following your intuition, having faith, and accepting yourself.
It may turn out that accepting myself will be the most exciting adventure of all.
Beth Lee-Browning is originally from the Midwest and currently lives in Pennsylvania. She is a proud mother of three, a full time professional, and an aspiring writer. Beth maintains a very observant blog, It’s a Whole New World, here.