All my journeys in life, all my creative projects have been ignited by a magical element that, at first, made no sense, but seemed weird to me, unsuspected, intriguing, unwanted even.
Thirteen years ago, I became the apprehensive owner of Rivoli, a handsome Italian accordion. Our initial fling was short-lived. After a few love-lessons in accordion, Luscious Lou, my teacher laughed at my plea to drop the Irish Eyes Are Smiling oomp-pa-pa for a sexy tango. Matter-of-factly, he informed me that it would take ten years before I could play such sultry tunes. I did not have ten years. I moved on and Rivoli moved into the closet, high on the shelf of relics and unlived dreams.
A few years ago, when creative freedom lust stirred within and I considered closing shop and taking a leap into the wide open arms of the world, Rivoli insisted upon coming along. That in itself was so bizarre that I pulled him out of the closet and put him in my living room. Since Rivoli has been egging me on with his longings, insisting that him and I are going on a journey. What journey? I’d ask. Where?
Did you read my memoir, Seeing Red? It ends with the introduction of the accordion. While I have yet to sling the accordion over my shoulder and hit the road, it has been incubating in me for a while now. Be it a metaphor, a marvelous element or an instigator, the accordion, however weird of a fixture it is in my life, won’t go away.
And I know better to ignore those things that won’t go away.
What instigated my memoir Seeing Red more than a decade ago, was a sacred mountain. The sacred mountain intrigued me and what happened on that journey around the mountain haunted me in the years to follow. Something profound happened that I did not understand and so, the writing became the way to deal with this ‘inner mountain’ creatively.
When I picked up a camera and began to photograph semi clad women, I thought it was a strange thing to be doing and at best a hobby. But something happened in the intimate space between my eyes, the camera and the woman in my lens view. Everything that’s ever happened to this women around her body from betrayals, abuse, self-hate, insecurity, shames, and more showed up in the room. It intrigued me. It didn’t want to go away. Women kept coming to me, and after about three years of resisting, I finally gave in and gave my full attention to using the camera to see and help women see themselves.
The mountain, the camera, and now the accordion. All catalytic factors, or in my mentor’s language, marvelous elements.
“These are the miraculous powers we cannot acquire without initiation and they are the building blocks of higher consciousness. In a great story, how would you represent these special energies except as the chalice that possesses Christ consciousness, a crystal that can cure disease, a missing father who can restore a kingdom, a miraculous fountain that can restore youth, a magic potion that can produce love, a secret weapon or magic sword that can save the world? These are excellent metaphors for this potential energies, which are out there, or rather in there somewhere, waiting to be manifest in the right people, at the right time, in the right place.” (Stealing Fire from the Gods, James Bonnet)
What marvelous element might be calling you right now? Do you dare listen?
Over the years I’ve discovered that my basic MO is movement, and my way of being in the world goes something like this: I feel, I inquire, I explore, I create, I share and I serve. If I can’t do this, I’m not me.
I’ve also noticed there’s a particular dance I do with those instigating experiences or elements in my life. Whether intrigued or haunted, bemused or angered, I’m stirred up inside – I feel. Feeling is the strongest motivator ever. If there’s no feeling there often also no action. Usually, I resist this ‘new element’, while this idea or experience or element is incubating in my creative unconscious. As you can see, the process stretches over years, sometimes decades. When I finally surrender to this conversation, is when I begin creating with it.
Heeding the Call to Creative Adventure.
Recently, I sat down by my computer on a Friday night and pulled up a new document on my screen. I wrote, The Accordion. A big rush of energy went through my body. I thought, holy crap, this is big, this is real. Not only did I just open up creatively, but I’d also made the decision to being a writer, no matter what! This, perhaps the accordion’s ulterior motive? To get me to write. More.
At the time I was busy doing workshops in Sausalito and Colorado. Which were great experiences, and yet, often I had this very physical sensation of my body of turning left, toward this new creative journey. The accordion and the creative unconscious were clearly pointing me towards this story that’s been brewing around the accordion. Woman, sit down and write that story!
No Instant Gratification With Soul Work.
The accordion has become a beautiful metaphor for the journey to our essential self – the journey toward our heart, we all must make in this life, upon which the soul of our world so depends. This may be the core theme of my next book. I imagine a love story for our times.
In all honesty, I am scared and I brace myself. Not only because this feel like a really long conversation, you know, like a whole life. Also because the accordion adventure requires that I become complete beginner again. I have never written a novel. I can’t play the accordion. But this is what the accordion is challenging (or humbling) me to do. It wants me to engage a conversation and tell a story about love and the essential liberated self.
Perhaps becoming a beginner again is the only way with which we can approach deep paradoxes and big topics with innocence and curiosity and actually say something true, soul-stirring, new even. All I know how to do is to heed the call and embark upon the journey.
Tell me about your creative process and rhythms? Tell me about the marvelous elements that have instigated big projects or journeys in your life.
Here’s to a new creative adventure…