White Shadows

A shadow is an indication of a presence in the physical world. When something visible casts a shadow, the shadow is also visible, though its appearance alters depending on the light source. Assuming that there are things that go unseen by us, wouldn’t they, too, cast a shadow? 

“Emerge”

In the spirit of spontaneity, there is a mix of chaos and genius. I feel like inside peoples’ minds this is also true of the whirlwind of thoughts that chug through. Where do all those thoughts come from anyway? The mind is always trying to make sense of all the stimuli its being fed. To make things more complicated, it’s not just stimuli in the present moment, but recreations of the past and all kinds of variations of futures-some minutes away, others decades away. Does the mind take the time to assess responsibility for the source of each incoming thought? 

Somewhat accurate recreation of  past occurrence 

Less accurate recreation of a past occurrence (less uncomfortable than above version)

Incoming bodily sensation (itchy nose)

A worry about how the near future might unfold (undesirable outcome)

Inspiration

Inspiration. I love it. I live for it. I try to be mindful of it so that when I notice it, I can let the energy color whatever my current experience is.

My “moveable” workspace. I set up wherever has the best lighting. I like corners =)

It is in this way that I haven’t changed that much from when I was a child. Do you remember that aspect of being a child? When something bugged you, you got over it relatively quickly and there you were again enthralled in some imaginary scene you played out with rocks and sticks. Someone would tell you that the rock wasn’t what you said it was, and instead of listening to them, you knew it was your responsibility to show them what you were seeing so that they could see it too (because it was so cool!).. unless of course their idea was even better, then you’d enthusiastically go with that.   

I have never thought of myself as a spontaneous or impulsive person. However, when it comes to painting (with watercolor especially), it is an entire meditation on acting in the moment on impulse! It pulls me out of my thinking head, all those thoughts are not important, it’s just noise, and the only way I know that for sure is because of how inspiration feels.

View from my corner spot

Physical existence loses some of its grip on me.. if I were to express this with art, I’d make the lines of our bodies dotted, or let more of the sky or nature in the background seep into and mingle with the wet paint of the person. We are less “solid” and “defined” when we are in a creative state. More of that which is usually perceived as being outside of us, enters us and mingles with our essence.

Spontaneous painting in one color

As I paint I get to a certain state where I am noticing “suggestions” that seem to appear in the moment. I follow impulse after impulse, each arising from the previous brush stroke or from some general sense of something missing. Each impulse is a breadcrumb that only appears in that very moment, so I have to focus my attention to be receptive in the moment. This particular variety of breadcrumb-present moment appearing breadcrumb- does not leave a trail where you can look ahead or look back.. it forces you to stay in the present moment.. where the white shadows are. 

A whisper of guidance is never far, always reminding me that I am not what I paint, but the heart and mind with which I paint.  It just so happens that my most recent inspirations have been painting focused on negative space and lifting paint out of the painting. Sometimes there is paint on my brush, and sometimes it’s just loaded with water. Sometimes in order to create the thing you envision, you leave it empty. What a strange approach. As I experiment, I discover more about the creative process and it becomes less about learning new techniques or trial and error as it is about observing the quality of the mind that holds the brush. 

Eventually, as a painting emerges from the blank canvas, something else also emerges. The realization of being in a deeper state of awareness. This mindful way of painting focused in the present, and attuning to impulses and spontaneous “suggestions” that arise, has become a kind of meditation that seems to suit me very well. 

More white shadows

It’s as if watercolor painting was a secret practice that the universe hid in this world for me to find. To rise above thoughts and merge with inspiration and stay present in the moment with an open receptive heart and mind is not an easy thing to practice, but somehow it feels like very little else matters in the grand scheme of things. We value the cleanliness of the body, but who talks about the regular cleansing of the heart and mind and how to go about doing that?

The depth of an individual’s uniqueness is immeasurable. In fact, I am pretty convinced that the universe has hidden secret practices for everyone. They are all tailor made to your exact specifications to such a degree that no one but you would know it until you’ve experienced it. You don’t believe me? Maybe, you just haven’t found one of yours yet. 

Or, maybe you have a better idea? Let’s hear it =)  


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Raw Creativity

Very little excites me these days as much as the experience of raw creativity.

I would have described myself as having hermit-like tendencies before. I’d prefer not to be in social situations too much, or in crowded places. I like living in apartments at least high enough away from the ground that I feel I’m safe in a nest in a nice tall tree.

However, the surreal experience of creativity in more recent years has drawn out a new “need” from within. I want to meet others who keep at least one foot in that creative space. I want to talk about it.. as I’m sure each person’s experience of creativity is unique in many aspects. It’s such a large development-like an entire language-you acquire from the inside out and although creativity is accessible to all, some people are more “fluent” than others. It’s a world within the world that remains largely uncharted-well at least for me.

It can feel subtle and both familiar and unfamiliar.. It’s like a direct link.. an eyeball that functions without refraction-an inner eye with endless scope. We can bypass our normal clumsy way of navigating the space our bodies take up with our two hands and feet, and we can sense and see fragments of that which defies all we thought there was and all we thought we were.

Sometimes when we act from the heart-that warm place-it’s as if our arms and hands extend from that center space in our chest. Similarly, when our sensory perception sharpens, little shadows of inner whispers become more detectable.. like tiny inner tugs, pulls, and tingles. Our original arms and hands no longer suffice in visually depicting the creative process we can find ourselves a part of.

There is something else there..

“OctoMoChan”

Maybe you are thinking, “Mo-Chan, are you on drugs??” Nope.. not unless the creative substance of the ether counts, because I’ll admit I actively and regularly circulate that through my vessel-we all do to some degree.

I can’t tell you where you can find it, because I don’t think it works the same for everyone. But I will gladly share with you where I can find it in my own life. It happens in the early morning as the sky sheds its dark night color and for moments is a beautiful piercing deep purplish blue. It happens in the company of great big trees-the older the better. It happens in high places with scenic views-where the raw expansiveness is like a mental elixir-a full system upgrade and reset all in one. In general, it also happens in the presence of things that make you smile deeply from joy.

Happily, no one is immune to quiet joy. That being said, what is also apparent is that no one is immune to the ability to get in one’s own way. I have been in beautiful places and not been able to let joy bubble up from the inside. I have been amongst what would be sacred, yet an impatience and weak mental state aggravates me into a dizzy, irritable restlessness. And I have felt numbness at a scene where others were melting in emotion. We all get in our own way sometimes.


Now, I’d like to share a recent dream I had.

In the dream I was in my aunt’s room in her old house-the most magical room in any house I’d ever been in as a child. There were stuffed animal hippos hung from the ceiling, and a large fish tank sat near the foot of her enormous waterbed-the waterbed that had real hippos living inside, so she swore.

An important note to include about my aunt is that her mission in life has been to rescue wild animals who have been injured by humans or just need help getting back on their feet. In the dream, she was cradling her most recent rescue in her arms: a large bobcat.

Once the bobcat felt more comfortable, it left her side to walk around the room and explore a bit. The next thing we knew, it had perched itself atop the fish tank and was scooping out fish with the intent to eat them. We both dashed around trying to put the fish that had flopped to the floor back into the tank.. but there were so many. In real life, my aunt only had two large creepy-looking fish: “Freddy” and “Krueger.” In the dream, however, there were tons of fish, the most beautiful and magical I’ve ever seen. They had bulbous shaped bodies, and a presence that felt so alive and of a kindred nature-as if they were fellow human beings.

I looked into the eyes of the many fish that were waiting for dear life to be scooped back into the tank, and I felt a strong bursting feeling in me. This feeling is what I’m supposed to remember.


I know we all have these moments. There are things in our lives we have never articulated in words, yet they have been reinforced time and time again by simply reoccurring, or being somehow attached to our inner self by some great attraction. As our experiences build and we find opportunities to reflect and articulate these happenings, we find we have begun some existential process of self-translation.. all these happenings are filled with personal meaning that become evidence or data in this self-translation process. The greater the fluency, the greater the comprehension of the self.

So, back to those places and situations that I have found creativity in. Those sources of quiet joy and awe not only inspire, but reveal to me who I am in “yes” form.  It’s the comfortable way of learning, but by itself, it is insufficient. The other great teacher in life is adversity, and it teaches us in “no” form- through discomfort, stress, and the awakening of inner resistance.  

I’m thankful for the bobcat and fish dream. It was very powerful and I feel strength in walking forward today, with the guidance of that feeling it brought to my awareness. I wonder what feeling is guiding those of you reading this, today? Do you feel you are being guided in life, even if you may not know what is guiding you? How do you experience creativity?

Is something else there for you, too?    

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