Make each day a work of art; make a work of art of time.” McCrea Imbrie spoke those words to me quite casually one day, as we wrestled together, collaborating word by word, phrase by phrase, thought by thought, on our first play together, SOMEONE’S COMIN’ HUNGRY, which was produced a year later Off-Broadway.
To discover works of art within ourselves, in words or any medium, and in the reconstruction of my own is-ness, often requires opening myself up to long-buried desires.
Many of us were taught as kids, subtly or violently, to grab desire by the throat and choke it to death, whether it was a playful desire to make a design in a plate of mashed potatoes, or a serious desire to play soldier with a dead branch as a machine-gun, killing the enemy by the dozens, or maybe just a universal primate desire to cling to daddy long after Daddy thinks clinging is appropriate.
I have been learning again and again, for decades, to throw my arms around my desires like grabbing a life-raft in the middle of a raging sea, and when the storm subsides to study how desires may lead me to new sources of fulfillment, so long as I am certain they won’t lead me to hurting myself and others.
Experimenting with Doing–especially when it might be of benefit to others and myself– is never wasted, because it generates electricity that can light up my life and the lives of those I love.
The English poet William Blake once wrote, “Gratitude is heaven.” That has to be the definition of heaven that delights me more than any other, because the gratitude that sometimes surges through my body in meditation, or at a moment of wordsmithing a movie script or play or poem, is so overwhelmingly and tearfully joyful.
Is there any gratitude greater than a new way to move the human body, discovered by a choreographer—or a line of dialogue that leaps with excitement—or a violently new and thrilling concatenation of musical notes, or a moment of deep, genuine caring that helps another being heal herself.
Teachers, friends and relatives have often, without meanness, but ignorantly, led us to curb our imaginations and our ability to take the artistic and relational detours that grow beauty from our deepest desire. So often it seems that the things that call to our universal human creativity lie beyond our grasp. How can we safely coordinate the wildness of creativity with a practical attitude with practical benefits, and thereby achieve a depth of heavenly gratitude beyond what we thought possible?
You might be 14 or 40 or 80 and have given up your dreams of making movies or dancing or guiding people on horseback up into the Sierra Mountains. Impractical? Impossible? Make the impossible possible! Make the impassible passible!
I recently began a fourth new film script, and the title alone gave me a rich burst of enthusiasm: DREAM A NEW YESTERDAY. Writing four new movie scripts at the same time? Will I live to write them? Does it matter? Many people diagnostically inclined might think I am acting out a longstanding A.D.H.D mental illness, working on four new film scripts, plus two new musical dramas, and occasional poems. Perhaps I am, but I have managed to complete many plays, movie scripts, and poems, and I have managed, with the scrumptious support of my Willowbird Happycake Kissdish wife, to reach our fiftieth year of passionate, joyful wildness together, projects which have given me and us the crazy wisdom of creating that contributes boons of love energy in all our relationships.
Your inner voice can override your inner censor, unearth hidden dreams. Expressing a want actually releases it, and hidden yearnings often give voice to long-lost enthusiasms. Sometimes what releases the joy of art might be. like Matisse, working on 17 paintings in various stages; hopefully he found joy in bringing each of them to completion.
Meditate on your memories, cultivating loveliness, rejoice in existence, invite nature and all your loved ones alive or dead into a pocketful of gratitude in the backyard of your mind, a refuge in the precincts of your consciousness.
Let yourself feel the presence of every flower, every creature you ever loved, every rainbow that ever jumped your soul, the delicious whiteness of ice cream sundae clouds creeping over a hill, the stillness of green leaves growing upon a lakeside sweetgum tree and shimmering mirrored in the water, the world, your body, your mind, totally choiceless, panoramic awareness, including every kiss, every hug, every pair of eyes you have looked into with a smile, no constraints of time and space, with countless chances to celebrate yourself as one in the Oneness of the All Without End.