A writer – or for that matter, any kind of artist – if s/he is lucky, may occasionally find himself in the throes of a creative power that is so enthralling and powerful that the words on paper, the brush on canvas, or the notes that fill the air take on an ethereal quality.
I’ve been fortunate to experience several of those major transcendent episodes over the course of my life. There is nothing more memorable than being so fully in the moment that your entire being is consumed with the energy of creation. Words flow almost effortlessly as if time stops and personal sense fades away. Every detail is synchronously registered in your body, and yet you may not even be aware of tears that stain your face because you are living a precious moment in the sweet spot of life.
I chanced upon this video today, performed by the popular Croatian cellist from 2CELLOS. It literally transported me into the space in time when I first heard those first few melancholic notes. What an incredible ability the mind has to recreate what it has known from the past when imprinted with emotion.
This is what ‘being in the flow’ looks like.
“Adagio for Strings,” composed by Samuel Barber, is one of my very favorite pieces of classical music. Although it is slow and some may call it ‘depressing,’ it pulls at my heartstrings. Hearing it only once imprinted the notes into my brain over fifty years ago. You don’t have to know the composer, or the name of the piece to be drawn into its soaring, magical world.
As I watch Stjepan Hauser’s face, I can see that he is not just playing the cello, he IS the cello and he IS the music. He is so in tune with his instrument that you can see every note play on his face. With eyes closed, he blocks out the material world and enters the sublime.
The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul.
–Ludwig von Beethoven
We marvel a the great artists and writers who have earned a place in the sun for their work. Many have admitted that their talent was channeled through them, that “David was in the stone,” that “God dictated” and they listened, and we can recognize these gems because they have rightly floated to the top.
For many of us, it’s a long, hard slog. Where do we go for inspiration? After many false starts we realize that the Muse is not something to be found ‘out there.’ It is an imperative that wells up and fills us with the substance found in secret rooms in our heart, some barely covered with dust, others only found after years of excavation.
As an aspiring writer from a very young age, I recognized that I saw the world through the lens of words and literature. Books became both teacher and friend to me, and to this day I cannot part with many I read in my young adulthood. I learned from the successes and failures of Scarlett O’Hara as much as I have from Michael de Montagne and Wayne Dyer. Each applied to me at a point in time that connected me to its writer.
Creative people are often reluctant to show their work to others because they are concerned they will be judged not only for their creations, but the thoughts which ‘inspired’ them. I don’t think any of us truly stops striving for perfection or being fearful of what people will think of our work – and of us!
After winning awards as a young man and enjoying an illustrious career as a composer, Samuel Berber tore up a musical score when critics rejected his opera. He moved to Europe and became deeply depressed. Even the successful are not immune. I wonder whether Michelangelo was upset that one of David’s hands turned out larger than the other.
When we begin to truly love and accept ourselves, the false modesty that plagues all performers falls away, and like the superfluous marble from Michelangelo’s David, reveals the beauty beneath.
As I age and grow more comfortable with the understanding that my life experiences – both good and bad – are rich with tools I need to mine and share, I become more willing to step out and tell my own stories. In this way, I hope to help others succeed and learn from lessons I may have had to learn the hard way.
And when I ‘get myself out of the way’ as the musician above has done, and concentrate on my purpose, the words flow.
“Your gifts lie in the place where your values, passions and strengths meet. Discovering that place is the first step toward sculpting your masterpiece, Your Life.”