— Living on Waterfalls —
The Mysterious WAY OF THE CREATIVE
by DAVID C. POND
Above: Les Cormorans – Saint-Gilles, Reunion Island Photo: Zamir Popat for Getty Images
“Solidarity” — Ozie Cargile
Photo: Learning to Fly II – © John Wilhelm
All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex and vital. – Oscar Wilde
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. – Bullwinkle
And then what did pop-culture’s Once Upon a Time television series drill into its fans about magic and by default – the unseen forces?
Magic always comes with a price, dearie. – Rumpelstiltskin
It is that way with many artisans. There are always what may seem to be imploding geyser–like waterfalls springing forth from within and without in the lives of all truly creative souls. Those who do not learn to navigate, even negotiate with their craft may unleash inner turbulence that either propels them to recognized genius or casts them down through the cleavage of various netherworlds and even to hell itself – in many forms, metaphorically speaking.
Creative folk often traverse the rapids of these waterfalls. Let us perhaps even call them geyser-falls – as they explode with the full force of every individual’s creative flow. And all of us are on our own journey, often shifting between the practical and mundane, as we steer our talents through the comically brilliant and iridescence of humanity — because creators must tread carefully when offering their wares.
It is often a work of art in and of itself when we are captured by geyser-falls of grace, for this is where we most closely touch the divine, the scientifically undefinable. I speak of grace here in its completely non-exclusionary form, the grace of moments pregnant with new insight and the overflowing ripe fullness of the universe cascading over a willing soul.
Of course, it always comes with a price, this wild waterfall ride of creative experience – be it the misunderstanding of others, periods of solitude or just the sheer terror sometimes of embarking into uncharted territory.
Once in mid-ramble, chatting it up with a creative partner I remarked, “When you have a cosmic-oriented reality, it’s sometimes hard to be grounded.” Is this the dilemma of all artists? Why does creativity evoke such profound emotional responses in all of us, whether we are the creator or the viewer. Maybe we are all mirroring the peaks and valleys of life’s mountains and creativity is an overflowing waterfall to show us that there is more – but free-falling like sky diving adds an element that is not under any control. Artists dare to take those risks of exposure for all to see. I believe everyone is creative, but those who put forth their creations for others to see — to judge — free fall.
Does this come with ups and downs? Absolutely! Artisans sometimes drive in their own metaphoric version of a barely functioning “work truck” – some take it up to a spent drag racing vehicle, but it’s usually one without seat belts and they often ignore the bald tires. The very act of “Art” can have consequences and affect both pragmatic and ethereal realities.
For some of us, it can take a toll on the emotions, as well as the mind and body. One moment you want to save the world, the next you have suicidal inclinations, or something akin to Alice in Chains “Down in a Hole” – a surreal passion. Perhaps amid the many deaths of dreams and rebirth of visions that all those fated with hyper-imagination experience, finding grounding may be as simple as painting it at a known or unknown location, or writing a poem or resting in the arms of the Universe or even screaming into a pillow.
It’s a little like being The Red Baron from Charlie Brown (his dog Snoopy’s alter-ego). You’re reveling with creative ideas, and at the same time, or a few moments later, you’ve focused on crashing your biplane into an imaginary haystack; Hendrix smashing his guitar; Director Tony Kaye sabotaging his critically acclaimed film, Lynne Cheney’s erotic lesbian novel that threatened to upset an election, Harlan Ellison’s ultimate anthology in a Drawer, Virgil asking his friends to burn his great work of literature or Michelangelo feeding his to a bonfire.
Perhaps we all have a version of that “haystack” – that “bonfire.” I do, and more than that – I find creative ways to crash the plane and light the fire ad nauseum. Not just by playing with crappy relationships, ones that I knew were destined for tragedy from the start . . . but very creative incarcerations that I almost feel are connected to “crash and burn” scenes, like Frida Kahlo’s romantic trysts. Once, I quit a job of five years, pretty much “on the spot” to write a play that was nearly guaranteed to be produced – and it was! Still, not the most grown up thing to do. Artisans often abandon security for the thrill of the ride – we free fall.
Those who are in the flow of the geyser-falls often cannot be defined, labeled or put in neat little boxes. If they don’t find a way to make others understand where they fit, survival as a creative entity can sometimes become touched by the fire of a little madness or worse, abandoning their creativity. If you continue, if you free-fall, we all applaud. I choose to call it grace and magic.
Not everyone who lives in the geyser-falls of the creative flow is ‘touched by this fire,” but it helps — I’ve thought I was going to live and run with these impulsive creative bursts until “lights out.” Or not. But there may be another way to negotiate the territory of divine madness and practical wisdom. I’m hoping so, but if not, along with Bette Davis, I’ll fasten my seat belt, for “it’s going to be a bumpy night” — because I have to create.
Artful Living – the Sometimes Attainable More Balanced Approach
Artful living at its best can translate the artisans’ consciousness with mind-over-matter precision, color and tone — making one’s own life the ultimate creation and understanding the creativity emanating from within as the waterfall. Give yourself, give your art, give your talent and if it is intended truly as a gift it will translate to your waterfall and you can ride it comfortably until you find where it truly belongs.
Sometimes the mind bends space and time and whether we here perceive it as real or imagined, it has substance. “. . . whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” Imagination is powerful, so we should be thoughtful and careful of what we create.
I would also encourage all of you who are creative to support the creative community. Ultimately, life is not about who is better, it is about who has used what they have to its highest purpose. We need one another, and you may help save the life of an artisan, be they a musician, actor or painter with a simple act of support in word or deed.
At times being solitary is healthy, and there may be more value in this posture for some more than others. But since we are all so very much affected by each other, goals to better serve the community help us all. We are all only a part of the whole – isolation never produces emancipation or wholeness.
Artists not only see the world as it is, but as it was, and how it will be – or could be – sometimes all at the same time. It may take a bit of openness to see humanity’s natural mystical connection, and a bit of faith in this unseen dimension for all of us to evolve to the next level. Artists are definitely a catalyst in this development.
A waterfall happens when a cascade of water flows over a precipice. Living on Waterfalls as an artist is constantly taking what is in you and bringing it out. I hope that you will use everything inside you and even the things that may be blocking you to create your own creative waterfall — and flow with it!
© 2018 by D.C. Pond Media, All Rights Reserved, Reprinted by Permission
David C. Pond is a free-lance writer currently working to create a social enterprise benefitting the “working poor.”