Monthly Archives: August 2015

Creativity: Finding the Elegant Solution . . .with Desire and Duct Tape

tools for pet doorThe pet door out to the back deck needed to be altered; its dog-sized, weighted flap being too heavy for my energetic but middle-aged cat, Ruby.  With all my builder/handy-person friends either carrying their own full plates or on vacation, I decided with some trepidation to initiate the project myself.

I appreciate the practical, grounded-ness of hands-on activities. Especially gardening and cooking and practicing karate with the bo staff.  Indeed I find that interaction with material things invites entrance into a creative zone, beyond the rational mind.  A creative space where human and material intelligence mingle and unite to build elegant solutions, especially when the “know it all” ego can be set aside.

Some might call this intermingling communing with the devas or creating with the nature spirits or simply being intuitive and attuned to out-of-the-box possibilities.  I call it one of the great gifts of being alive.

Playing with the same matter over time — be it a particular garden space, a personal musical instrument, tool, etc — can build a deeply artful, welcoming rapport that radiates beauty, joy, surprise, and inspiration.  What personal stories do you have of this profound creative cooperation?

On the surface I lacked this deep rapport with the pet door renovation project.  For starters it was a one time event.  In addition, I didn’t have the officially required tools.  Even if I had, I wouldn’t have known how to use many of them.

What I did have was 1) a great desire for Ruby to be able to enjoy being on the back deck while I am working during the day and 2) my neighbor, Sharon, who was kind enough to stop by with a Phillips screwdriver and her good humor.

The renovation started well: existing pet door with heavy flap easily removed. Check.

Then I hit the snag.  Although I’m usually quite attentive to detail, I neglected to notice that the replacement pet door I had ordered, while having a wonderfully light-weight flap, and being the proper length and height, was not actually the proper width.  Too wide by about 1.5 centimeters. Darn.

Not wanting to abandon the project, I sat on the floor with the Phillips screwdriver and the cardboard packaging, and the hole in the door, and mosquitoes flitting in and out, while Ruby and Sharon looked on. I considered what resources I could put my hands on and thought about how much Ruby likes to be outside.  I waited.

Then it came.  The “elegant” solution.  Cardboard. Scissors. Duct Tape. Perfect shims. Perfect fit.

Now my builder friends will laugh when they see this creation. They’ll consider it too “Arkansan” in the derogatory sense and will probably insist on installing it all properly.  I laugh too, because the lines are neat and straight, the door works, and Ruby’s enjoying the late summer sun.  Thanks intuition.  Thanks devas.

Creativity: Balancing Curves and Squares

ChicagoI traveled by plane to Chicago recently on my way to a family reunion in Michigan.  The city’s skyline boasts the famous Willis Tower (long known as the Sears Tower) and the John Hancock Center which houses the fastest elevator in the Western Hemisphere. Impressive.

Yet even more striking than the skyscrapers and the stories behind them is the vast grid of city streets from which they rise.  Square after square after square.  Block after block.  A pattern of hard edged metal and concrete  “landscapes” enclosed by predictable, repeatable boundaries, offering a little flourish (such as a speedy elevator) here and there.  A symbol of our rational mindset and creative prowess over the last century.  A testament to our human power to say “yes, we can build this” and to make it happen.

In contrast to our many “squared” human constructions, Nature’s creations flow with curves, pleasing symmetry and complementary shapes. These configurations soften the eyes, stir playfulness, and open the heart, while sparking awe and igniting wholeness in the imagination . .  . feelings and qualities that say “yes, we can build something that heals and inspires.”

circles and squaresSome spiritual texts denote the square as a symbol for the personality, that part of us which navigates life’s literal and metaphoric streets and gets things done.  On the one hand a perfect fit for our modern outwardly demanding, efficiency driven society.  On the other hand, a creative potentiality of mind, passion, vitality, and physical action that can serve the spiraling inspirations of the Heart  A potentiality waiting to be claimed.

I find that communing with Nature and observing Her Creative Ways (even in a small urban garden of which there are many in Chicago’s neighborhoods) serves as an essential counterweight to the omnipresent pull into cut and dried efficiency and established routines.  It balances the valuable assets of the square with the curves of the heart, yielding the best of both:  real-world savvy and embracing quality; effective action and healing, meaningful inspiration.

Spiritual Tribe: Be Moved by the Naked Truth of our Togetherness

Belladonna and ButterflyAmidst summer’s challenging heat, when nearly all other flowers have faded, the Belladonna Lilies (a.k.a. Naked Ladies) burst forth in gardens throughout the Ozarks. Their soft pink flowers entice butterflies, and rivet the human eye, proclaiming: “yes, beauty lives!”

But it is perhaps the plant’s leafless stalks that send the loudest message, boldly reminding that flourishing depends on and rises on simple, Heart-rooted truths.

Is there any more essential, urgent Truth today than the Truth of our Togetherness on Earth?   And the corresponding Fact of our Intimate Relationship with our Planet’s Biology?

Pope Francis gave voice and shape to these practical Heart Realities in his encyclical this week. And locally many friends sang their praises in concert with the Blue Moon in Aquarius. But it was when kneeling on the Earth, quietly weeding around the Naked Ladies that I felt and heard these compelling Truths most profoundly and was moved to re-commit to local and personal efforts to stand up for the Earth and live more lightly.

While it may be ridiculously naïve to believe in a salvaging, worldwide awaking to the Naked Truth of our Inter-Connection (although I do like to visualize this), I am already convinced of the dynamic, motivating power of the Togetherness Truth, individually realized via whatever Heart-Sourcing, Earth-Touching experience or Lighted Path.  Thus, in the heated midst of melting glaciers, record forest fires, and super storms, I have faith that the flowers of Togetherness: the Will to Protect, the Love to Care and Wisdom to Act will flourish and bloom  . . . spreading here and there, more and more  . . . perhaps enough for us to eventually proclaim “yes, Earth and the Human Heart live!”   It depends on us, Together.