Fecundity is my favorite word. It is the ability to produce. When I am at my best creatively, I am relaxed, comfortable, and feel free. This state of being does not come naturally. I have (as do you, I suspect) what feels like A TON of things that must be done. I have roles of mother, wife, and friend that are important to me to fulfill. It is easy to feel very limited.
Yet, when I see a blank canvas:
I can’t wait to gather my paints:
And fill it with color:
Don’t get me started when it comes to what is possible with polymer clay:
I can begin a piece feeling discouraged or sad, but it’s nearly impossible to hold on to those feelings when I play with colors and design:
As some of you know, I occasionally work with students in English. Yesterday, I spoke with a mother who needed guidance in how to help her daughter with her writing. She said that one of her assignments simply asks the student to write a story and provided a blank page. For the reluctant writer, a blank page is overwhelming. We discussed ways in which she could help her daughter brainstorm and organize her thoughts, which is really an amazing process when I stop to think about it.
Today, I think about how, even though a blank canvas, page, or a glob of clay doesn’t phase me, staring into the face of the unknown is daunting – just as a writing assignment with no real prompt and only white space was daunting to the reluctant writer. Jean Paul Sartre writes of this sensation in Being and Nothingness. To have nothingness can be ideal in that there is great freedom, but it can also be the source of great existential angst. Great power lies in the ability to create – and great responsibility accompanies that power.
I think, in the midst of experiencing some uncertainty in my own life, that returning to the metaphor of the artist is one that can inspire me to push through the angst and toward the sensation of hope, wonder, and playfulness. In the words of Fr. J.J. Lakers (who I write about in my post on Journeys), “I claim a certain right to expound a vision… by analogy with artists in a theory of artistic creation… when artists meet insuperable limits on the full and free expression of their longing in this actual society, they feel the limits intensely. Yet, where others who meet these limits may repress the longing or adjust to the reality, the artists refuse to surrender. They therefore set out to create new forms of life and interaction, if only in imagination.”
Here’s to the artistic spirit that dwells within us all – waiting to be unleashed. Here’s to fecundity.
– Free Range Al
PLEASE NOTE: excerpts of this blog using Fr. J.J.’s words may not be used without written permission.