poetry & the creative om: in the flow, out of the way

This post is about the creative process — or at least it started out that way. If you have ever (1) solved a problem, (2) made something out of nothing, (3) improved or adapted a process, (4) improvised, or (5) pondered the what if, why, or why not of a situation…

… this means you. Doesn’t matter if you call it beekeeping, art, writing, flyfishing, music, leatherwork, risk management, healing, entrepreneurship, parenting, or activism. Ultimately, it’s all poetry.

Doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with this wikipedia entry, which says, “Creativity has been attributed variously to divine intervention, cognitive processes, the social environment, personality traits, and chance (“accident”, “serendipity”). It has been associated with genius, mental illness and humour…”

All this in response to a thoughtful question from a blogfriend curious about my interpretation of “Morning of the Letting Go,” poetry which sprang from my hand and which now lives in the sidebar right here.

Everything I have ever written (and deem worth reading) has emerged as a result of my having gotten in the flow and out of the way. (As to which came first, refer to the chicken-and-egg paradox, explained here in howstuffworks, though I’m not sure I buy it.)

Or, you can simply (1) get in the flow, and (2) get out of the way.

When one is “in the flow,” there’s really not too much to think about. You may have deadlines and contracts and humans and machines waiting for your creative output, but such concerns do not dance with the muse. Such considerations do not invite the living organisms known as letters, words, and phrases, to step forward into the circle, join hands, switch partners, and delight in their very own beingness. They, too, have lives to live! We can facilitate and assist, but there is no gain for any of the parties involved when we attempt to force them together in ways that are disharmonious with their destiny. If you watched in horror as your friends and family were banged out of a keyboard, cursed at, and repeatedly deleted (genolitteracide?) or wadded up in paper balls and flung around the room, would YOU volunteer to be next?

If plants have secret lives, why not words?

If humans yearn to rise to their highest potential, why not phrases?

Kabbalistic tradition holds words and letters sacred, as shown here, with more in this excerpt from this website:

“According to Kabbalah, words and letters are the actual building blocks–the raw material–of creation. Everything has a name in the Holy Tongue, and each letter of that name is a channel for a specific Divine energy. The energies of these letters and the way they are combined determines the particular unique characteristics of everything in existence.”

Sufi mysticism, the tradition that bequeathed Jalaluddin Rumi to the world, says this about poetry:

“Poetry is the best art there is, for besides everything else it is also drawing or painting with words. The mission of poetry is the same as the mission of the other forms of art. Poetry is a living picture, a picture that says more than a painting on canvas; and its mission is to inspire. Poetry comes to a poet through the suffering caused by disappointment; but any pain or suffering is a preparation. Just as in order to be able to play on a violin, the violin must first be tuned, so the heart must be tuned in order to express wisdom. The heart is tuned by suffering, and when the heart has suffered enough pain, then poetry comes. The natural birth of poetry takes place on the day when the doors of the heart are opened. Poetry comes from the heart quality; it is an expression of the love nature.” More on Sufi Mysticism here.

Alas, I digress! (Or do I?)

No matter the question, the answer remains: Get in the flow and get out of the way.

2 thoughts

  1. Athena,

    Here it is, in three simple steps:

    1. Get in the flow.
    2. Get out of the way.
    3. Repeat Steps 1 & 2.


    Keep visiting! A lot of what I talk about is emptying, clearing, releasing, purging, surrendering, trusting, allowing, flowing, and receiving. Focus on creating enough empty space so that the ideas, words – and just about anything else! – have an inviting place to land.

    BTW, you are the kind of person that I would love to have invite me over for tea and pickins!


  2. I wish I knew how to “get in the flow, and out of the way.” I tell everyone that I am a constipated writer, because my writing does not flow. :) I might have a flash of an idea of something to write about, but the rest is a real concentrated effort.

    I do agree that words take on a life of their own. Words, both written and spoken are powerful.

    I enjoy your depth. You are the kind of person that I would love to sit and have tea with and pick your brain. :)

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart and mind with the world.


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