I took a Geology For People Who Don’t Get Science class in college and learned that rivers don’t usually flow in a straight line. Their hooks and crooks are called meanders, and their location changes depending on how much water is in the river at any given time, and what things like erosion and natural (or man-made) obstructions influence the direction of the water. The purpose of the river is the movement of water from a tiny yet deep natural source to the sea. Rivers cover lots of territory. No matter how many times the water veers in different directions over the land, it gets to where it wants to go. It has a current that just IS. Movement, gravity, momentum: the water moves because the water is meant to move.
What if this creative journey I’m on were a river? The tiny source inside of me that needs to write, sing, draw, play, act, express seems to always have something to get out into the world. The path my artistic life is taking seems to be meandering – sometimes forward, sometimes back, but always in motion. I like the idea that the things I make – the words, the experience of art – are my offering to the Great Source, and a way to connect with my Creator. I create because I am made to create: I believe in a way that we all are, but contemporary culture has been doing a great job convincing us that a life of art is not worthy or sustainable. It certainly doesn’t make you much money most of the time. And it is frustrating to feel like I’m moving backwards in my work more than I’m moving ahead.
I’m sad today, because I had to withdraw from my improv team. My creative, emotional, and physical resources are too limited right now, and it’s all I can do to keep my head above water: do my work at my day job, write what I need to write, and feed myself on a semi-regular basis. Plus, my body is not happy. I need to be more gentle with her.
What do you know about rivers? What do you know about the source of art and the drive to create? What do you know about meandering and going in what might appear to be a backwards direction that is actually forward?