Ritualizing Renewal

I’ve been on the road now (mostly) for over a month and am suddenly faced with the inevitability of getting back to work. It is amazing to me how things that constellate in one’s life also affect one’s work.

This has been the summer of distraction. In a whirlpool of  stuff-goings-on/stresses/family sadness, I’ve realized how easy it is to get out of the practice of thinking/crafting/working…Then along came my chapter on renewal, which I had previously thought would be so easy and fun. How difficult could it be to write a chapter on California Adventure as Pixarland and Disney’s process of renewal?

Ha Ha Ha!! Famous last words. Creativity is a muscle, like any other. And if I know about anything…it is the consequence of unused muscles.

So, now I find myself in the process of ritualizing renewal for myself. I keep questioning: What does that mean? What am I asking? What do I have to say? As I prepare to leave again (for a short jaunt to Seattle…I’m helping Britta move back to California), I find myself in the depths of all of this. Renewal…making new again…infusing with the energy of birth…Renewal isn’t about starting over. It is about re-inspiration. How does one bring back that kind of fresh, naiveté to a soul that feels jaded? These last three months have been full of actual, literal dreams from which I wake knowing they’ve occured and yet can’t remember. It seems that rebirth is on the cusp of my consciousness…

And Pixar: the little lamp that could…the PERFECT image of renewal. These guys have been working IMAGES and EXPERIENCES of renewal for over 30 years. How could immersing myself in them go wrong?? But it has. It has fallen flat. So, I return to questions about personal creativity, and (Disney legend/animator/producer) Don Hahn’s book on creativity. As he wrote so eloquently, creativity doesn’t spring spontaneously from the (Jungian) unconscious. It is hard work. It is the work of ego integration, and the process of individuation. It is about touching the shadow aspects of psyche, which, frankly, noone wants to do.

A large part of renewal is re-inspiration, or the willingness to do what is necessary. And something in the whole process of re-inspiration requires discipline and routine. It seems antithetical to me…it always has. Creativity should spring spontanteously from somewhere deep within the self, no? No…creativity comes from the hard work of observing and pounding the pavement of the imagination.

My BFF/Kittay-other has given me an example of the kind of discipline that creativity requires. She has made the commitment to write a song a day for one month and (EVEN BETTER) to post those songs to a blog for the whole world to see. She has been incredibly brave in taking this kind of step/chance. And for this, (not to mention the amazing songs) I give her mad props!

So, how do I do it? I think the first step is getting out…making this trip to Seattle…flying alone without a security blanket. This will be especially difficult for me. I have to own up to the part of psyche that needs to be nudged…the part of me that LIKES the exhaustion and resignation. Because, if i live in that place, I never have to risk. Some have suggested that I do a creative piece, and while I’m not ruling that out as a possiblity (and, in all actuality, a probability), first I have to fly. I DO hate to fly…

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Filed under Reflections on the Dissertation Process

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