Opened at Random: Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art

This morning, we opened Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art to this…

Sometimes I find myself in a pit of loneliness or anti-creativity, feeling trapped in some bleak life situation, or feeling that I have taken on some piece of work so large and many-faceted that if I lived ten lifetimes I could not complete it. Part of me knows what a surprise, a breakthrough, a new element can come in at any moment and change the equation of my life. But all too often I identify myself as a part (an ego, a solidified self) that sees only what is apparent and feels trapped in it. The demands of daily life and my own expectations seem to allow me no time and no room to maneuver. I am tempted to grasp for an easy outcome, a magic potion, a distraction, or else a way to drop the whole thing.

At such times we can create tremendous doubt about the value of our life and art. Such unbelief, and the hypnotic power of self-doubt, has a real effect. We must do some mental housecleaning, collect every negative statement that we ever made to ourselves and thoroughly burn them up, and then allow a generous interval of time for the ashes to settle. Out of the ashes of doubt and the alchemy of surrender, we begin again to awaken to a faithful attitude. 



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