Before embarking on the winding roads leading to the Redwoods Monastery last weekend, I briefly stopped to rediscover a friendship that has been on pause for 14 years. This dear friend is an artist whose spirit and company can take anyone on an inward exploration. Her words are as striking as her movements and depending on the space from which one encounters them, they can evoke the deepest of emotions and awaken the most tired of travelers.
“When it’s done right, you don’t know who is doing it…”
Among the many things spoken between us, the simple statement that she made above about a piece she created seemed to echo throughout my weekend. This spoke to me about intention, specifically the artist’s intention when it comes to their creative work. Her desire to give the viewer a blank space, an empty room, where one is allowed to project their own experiences and story. This ego-removed-intention struck me as perhaps the place of true artistry, where one most naturally births their creativity for whomever it resonates with.
“Intention is powerful, and the power of its workings remain something of a mystery, though its effects can be profound and wide-ranging.” Maggie Ross, author
“Our task is not to make an amazing thing called art. Our task is to get a thrill from what we see. When we are moved, we will move others.” Jerry Fresia, painter
Many of us in this creative paradox of today find ourselves wanting to go away, disappear, shut things down, evaporate, and dismiss the sheddings of everyday life. Yet, I wonder, alongside my experiences of this, what does that solve? I’ve tried this a time or two in various ways, ponder I’m maybe even trying this now as I travel to the Redwoods. Yet, I always end up back in this space between wasting my time driving out the influences and realizing that such a fight leaves little to no time for actual creativity. My energy is often given more to pushing life away than to centering myself in the midst of everyday life and moving towards a space with the least possible amount of ego involved (I do believe it’s impossible to remove it all!).
“No matter what the writer may say, the work is always written to someone, for someone, against someone.” Walker Percy, author
Despite my yearning to create uninhibited, I cannot deny the influence of life’s emissions: television, marketing, music, likes, shares, comments, notoriety, people of influence, and so on. I spend the majority of my time in creativity with someone else in mind, with society in mind. It seems I’m more often than not creating for someone else or to someone else as opposed to creating from an authentic space that organically flourishes. Creating from an ego-removed-intention invites me daily to embark on what things I am to speak to, let go of, express, and offer (noting that often this offering is just for me and/or simply a part of my own journey).
“As soon as I am taking my focus off my own finite being and pointing my lens out, I’m still filtering my work through my own experience.” Joe Henry, musician
As I said goodbye to the Redwoods and carried on into my everyday world, I couldn’t help but circulate my car’s atmosphere with the words and mysteries that arose. The untouched radio, the open road, the words unveiling nothing and everything; I was opened once again to the vastness of the mysteries, happily carrying more answerless questions, open to continually letting go of what myself and others think — open to what I am to create.
It seems my roughest edges are most often the precise things I need to embrace and love as opposed to rid myself of. The fight against society’s influences is ultimately a fight against myself. The daily encounters that make me cringe are a part of me and the artist that I am. But, perhaps it isn’t a fight and only a greater opportunity for love. A chance to love more from my position as a fellow human that is among and a part of all our brokenness. After all, art comes from a raw and naked place; the artist is vulnerable, unclothed, and sensitive. Perhaps this is the purest of spaces to create from; perhaps this is the space of ego-removed-intention.
Originally posted on my HuffPost Blog
2 thoughts on “Creative Intention”
“I don’t want clarity when I create; there is no certainty in the midst of innovation.”
“My energy is often given more to pushing life away than to centering myself in the midst of everyday life and moving towards a space with the least possible amount of ego involved (I do believe it’s impossible to remove it all!).”
“I’m more often than not creating for someone else or to someone else as opposed to creating from an authentic space that organically flourishes.” – I find this true for me as well. Can the someone, something else, be God, or the divine Ultimate Being?
“…open to continually letting go of what myself and others think…” – this can be challenging for reflective, contemplative, intellectual souls that are haunted by creativity and the urge to express, to listen, to touch, to craft, to explore. What have you found helpful to get you into the practice of ‘continually letting go of what’ you yourself thinks?
I appreciate your thoughts here. I am an artist, musician, writer, and am in my final year (internship/practicum) of a graduate counseling psychology program in St. Louis, MO. My brother-in-law, Ben Gaul, told me about you, your work, and the upcoming documentary film.
I’m a regular visitor to Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky, and New Melleray in Dubuque (I am from Waterloo, Iowa). I’m studying here at a seminary, pursuing a master’s degree in theology as well as in counseling psychology. I’ve been blessed by reading your posts and articles!
Thanks so much Steven, that means a lot. I hope to meet you sometime, I think we’d have a lot to chat about!!