“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
This is a quote which is frequently attributed to Anais Nin, but upon my research today, there is no corroborating evidence to source her for the genesis of this quote. Perhaps she said it, perhaps she did not. Regardless of who said it, there is a stark truth in it, and my mind ravels and unravels around this truth like a bee looking for nectar within that bloom.
It occurred to me today that most of us live very tightly closed, well defined lives. We have our routines, our habits, and tend to live life in a closed, safe and predictable manner. I believe society, in a way, has contributed to our being closed down individually. We have been taught to live small lives, as humility is the ultimate virtue - safe for yourself, and more importantly, safe for everyone around you. Even as we gawk at our celebrities, who to us, live anything but small lives. There’s a giant paradox at work, and it’s one that has many of us feeling dis-empowered, frustrated and, at times, just plain stuck in our small-ness.
I am in a bit of a creative block at the moment. I have been working non-stop despite the creative block, hoping that by the sheer force and determination I possess, I might be able to pry myself open and enter into that open expanse of creativity.
Force has never brought me into greater creativity. I know this, but I arrive at my work this way anyway, every single day, looking for a place in which to enter. I know that in my art is where I take refuge. It is the one place in my life I was never afraid of the expanse, not fearing the freedom of my own creative spirit; and yet, suddenly, I realize I am not free even in the sanctuary of my own art. And that is why I am blocked.
There are so many reasons we learn to live small. In many ways, it is safer to do so, and it is ingrained upon us as tiny children. We poke our head up, point out some uncomfortable truth, and are shushed. Perhaps we carry the memory of that experience into our adulthood - not wanting to anger the tribe, because that would, anger them, and maybe we would be kicked out of our tribe. It's certainly happened before. I believe that there is no malice intended, it is, perhaps just the way it has always been, just the way our society behaves.
I could go into a larger conversation here, citing references from history where the people in charge have wanted (and still want) anything but an enlightened and informed public. But I won’t.
Because, ultimately, it is us who choose to stay small. It is us, individually and collectively who want so badly to belong that we perform in a safe and predictable way, rarely questioning our potential and throwing every obstacle in our own way to make sure we don’t grow.
Here’s a metaphor to illustrate the simple truth of what I’m trying to say, back to the original quote I began this rant with. Let’s say you are a flower. You are a beautiful bloom that only opens when the circumstances are right.
Say you are night blooming jasmine, and so you bloom under the moonlight. You thrive in the dark. Say you are a lily and you bloom in daylight, shade of course, roots buried deep in the moist, shaded soil.
You, in your peculiarity only bloom when the circumstances are appropriate for your particular design. Imagine if the jasmine, as dusk gave way to night said to its neighbors, “I can’t do it! I can’t open! Last time I opened I was abused and my leaves were all plucked off this vine. This is all I have left! I can’t open! I won’t do it!” And thus the beautiful jasmine flower decides to stay closed for this particular cycle of night. Imagine it. Absurd, don’t you think?
So you push those boundaries.
Bloom where you are planted.
Friday, September 25, 2015
“Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live.”