So often a fleeting state, seen as hard won or not relevant to the cut and thrust of daily life. A momentary dazzling of the senses, a peak experience, snapped for Instagram. Yet there is more to joy than meets the eye. A potent healer of self and others. A transformative, contagious state, where all that has been can be swept away in an instant as something new is revealed. How might we nourish joy in our hearts? If, as it seems to me, it is there, lurking, ready to break through the surface of our awareness at any moment, is nourishment simply relaxing into it, recognising the constricted, fearful thinking that takes us away from it?
And what of avoidance, bypassing, living in la-la land. That’s not joy. That takes as much effort, in terms of denial and wilful head in the sand blindness, as living in negativity. It just dresses itself up as positive when in fact it requires the same degree of dehumanising as its opposite, wilful cruelty.
Joy is something else. A willingness to be joyful is a good start. Knowing it brings healing is all the encouragement we could want, isn’t it? Joy in being alive, joy in the foibles and ridiculousness of ourselves and others, joy in the millions of unseen movements that make up this living, breathing planet. Joy in the fierceness of the human spirit, the resilience of the tiniest plant clinging to life on a windswept rock. Joy in being part of this unknowable, incredible whole. Joy in the journey with all its ups and downs.
Perfectionism has rolled back around into the spotlight. It gets a bad rap and rightly so for it tends to be used against oneself. In discussion, my partner said ‘it’s a kind of violence’. And that really landed for me. It can be violent, where it suffocates creative expression or taking action and invites us into excruciatingly, uncomfortable procrastination.
Can we expand our view of perfectionism, get a new perspective?
What even is it all about? Some imagined idea of how something should be? Holding that as the only possible outcome, seeing only how our efforts fall short of that imagined outcome? When we know, it is in taking action that new horizons appear. By letting ideas out, formed into action, new ideas occur. Mis-takes can be seen as opportunities that open up new possibilities
Perfect ~ as made
A few years ago, a dear friend told me one of the root meanings of ‘perfect’ is ‘as made’ from the Latin ‘per’ – completely and facere – to make, to do. I love that idea. Something is perfect in the sense, it has come into form, it is perfect simply as an expression of form. When we get to wondering at the miraculous diversity of form constantly showing up, then the word perfect suddenly goes far deeper.
I wonder how that would be to see ourselves too as ‘perfect’ ~ ‘as made’?
You’ll be able to hear me and Carla Royal exploring this topic on our new podcast, Riffing on Realness, launching in the Autumn. We had a blast.
Juliet is a poet and Three Principles facilitator & mental health educator, living on a small estuary in West Wales UK, follow her Insta-poems and photograph @juliet_k_fay. Get in touch to hire her to facilitate your next poetry workshop.
While we continue to believe that parts of our experience (emotions) must be excluded, we will experience a painful dichotomy in our experience. It is this belief itself that needs to be loved and held and accepted as being present so that it too can dissolve and fall away.. Be seen for what it is …. a thought oft repeated that has become a belief and has guided and protected us until we no longer needed its guidance and protection. Humbly thank it and wish it farewell as it departs.
Six months ago, I published a prose piece, Leave Go on this blog (read the original at the end of this post). It marked a change of tone in my article writing, leaning more towards the poetic in style. Risky? Maybe. Yet the feedback suggested it touched people. Recently I felt stuck, uninspired. It occurred to me to take a gentle stroll through my past writing and I’m so glad I did.
A note on creativity: in case you think ‘creative output’ means art or poetry or prose. It doesn’t. Every time you bring something into form that didn’t previously exist, you create:
a meal, an Instagram post, a photo, an outfit you put together, a sketch, a song you sing, a spreadsheet you populate, a piece of code you write, a hairstyle you create, a picture you frame, a sand castle you build, a fire you lay, a flower bed you dig over, If it doesn’t ‘feel creative’ that is just the thought you’ve overlaid on to the act.
What might you re-visit?
Behind the scenes of this creative process
Here are 18, whimsical and practical, things I discovered on reviewing LEAVE GO:-
The experience of reading the piece I wrote was a pleasant surprise. If you feel stuck or discouraged, remind yourself of past creative output. If it isn’t still in form (a cake, flower arrangement or beach art), perhaps look at photos, notes, sketches, or plans you made about the creation.
It seemed incredible that the same ‘I’ created this piece of work because this ‘I’ wasn’t ‘feeling’ particularly creative. A great reminder of how unreliable, illusory and changeable any concept of I, me, my capacity, talents, creativity etc actually is. I.e. best disregarded as often as you can.
Reading this piece took me straight back to the feeling I was in when I created it (and that was revitalising).
Something created, captured and shared, is re-animated, every time someone looks at it, listens to it, watches it, shares it (and that includes you the creator of it). Why not relish what you spent time creating in the past.
A fresh idea occurred to perform the poem (spoken word poetry) and record it (something I am just beginning to explore) and make a little video. INSPIRATION comes from contemplating the wonder and mystery of creation (ours, others’ and the natural world)
CREATIVE ACTION & LEARNING
Acting on that inspiration led to action which was absorbing and enjoyable (my mood lifted without me actively trying to shift it) LEAVING OUR RUMINATING ALONE AS BEST WE CAN
I found out some new functions on a free video app called SPLICE for smartphones (LEARNING)
I had FUN!
Out of that activity came a fresh new creation. First a written poem, now a performance piece. NOTICING CREATIVITY
The possibility for many different creative spin offs to create other version of this work suddenly seems endlessly possible and fun. IF IT’S DIFFERENT, IT’S A NEW CREATION
The joy of paying close attention to different aspects: each word, line length, layout of the poem, font. Then thinking about the performance: speed of delivery, loudness, variation of tone and speed, pitch, adding music or not, what kind? Images that could be filmed to go with the work. NOTICING THE TAP IS ON
SHARING (HELPING/TOUCHING OTHERS)
By publishing it on Vimeo and Facebook, it gets the creation out of the ‘safe’ space of your studio, notebook or tablet and sets it free. CREATIONS ARE HAPPENING BY THEIR MILLIONS EVERY DAY, UNLIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE
It changes form as soon as others hear/read/see/taste it and so it gets newly created each time it is heard CREATION IS DYNAMIC AND RE-CREATED AT EVERY MOMENT
It has attracted fresh interest even though it was previously shared as a poem to many of the same audience. Note to self: Don’t be afraid to RE-PUBLISH/RE-POST, it gives more people the opportunity to connect with what you have created. LOOK CLOSELY, IT’S NOT THE SAME FOR THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE IT
Heartfelt responses point you towards and encourage you to continue creating what helps people. This feedback gives you helpful pointers. FEEDBACK IS A GIFT
Helpful guides can appear. A film-maker and fellow writer have offered really helpful feedback and tips on how to improve and how to spread the work more widely. GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT COME FROM UNEXPECTED PLACES
Specific feedback, in this case on hearing the work rather than just reading it, encourages me to further explore e.g. spoken word performance. FEEDBACK IS A CHANCE TO LEARN
I’d love to hear what landed for you in this post and topics you’d like to explore further. Please add your comments.