I’m waking up on a brisk morning in Phoenix, though from where I’m tucked — between the magenta t-shirt sheets of my friend’s young daughter’s bed — there’s a warm silence and only the faintest feeling that outside, people are bracing themselves against the chill.
At my feet is Bodhi’s furry belly as it rises and falls with his breath. I match my breathing to his and my whole body starts to hum.
I came out to Phoenix with only the intention of saying yes to the invitation to be here: at a small gathering of women for an afternoon of making art. This morning, tiptoeing through the empty house while the coffee made itself, I spied the art of women I know and have become friends with dotting the walls. The things we make never exist in a vacuum; at some point, there was the moment before the thing got made, the inclination to make it, and a precipice where both the muses and the maker were dancing with possibility — but only one of them could decide whether or not the thing would get made.
What would have happened if those women hadn’t made that art? What else would be here on these walls?
Now, tucked between pink sheets and surrounded by the construction paper masterpieces on the wall beside me (made by my friend’s daughter), I can see evidence of the conversation between muses and maker as a listening that starts so young and a priviledge we never think to question — until we do.
And since what we make is so often channeled from our core, the questioning extends not just to the stuff we’d make but the stuff of our selves, too. For the women I see around me suffering from this harsh questioning about the rightness or wrongness of their compulsion to create — or create their lives in a certain way, or offer their gifts to the world — the tension is almost unbearable. It’s crazy-making and paralyzing.
The only way I’m able to see through it is to work through it. Not to bulldoze my way to my preferred way of being in the world (which would be antithetical to the way I want to be in the world, anyway), but to sit with the very real anxiety present in almost every moment that the unexpressed is seeking to be expressed.
Taste the metallic fear. Name the unnamed want. And meet myself right where I am.
There’s a lot of pushing and pulling happening in the world. There’s a lot of positioning ourselves on this side or that, in defense or support of one thing or another. And for the creators of the world, art and the creative life have taken on a battle-like persona. But I really believe it’s not only ourselves we’re resisting, but the compression we’re experiencing when some part of us is believing we should be living someone else’s life.
Our bodies know and are very vocal about what’s true in the face of these suggestions. With every oncoming wave of anxiety, the body says, That is not your life. That work is not yours to make. Be here with me.
Here is the place between the breath. This is the precipice of creation. This is where joy becomes manifest. Don’t wait until you feel safe to create your life — creating is the safety. It will catch you where you are until you can hold yourself there.