Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The never ending struggle

I don't know if anyone else has to do this, but periodically I simply have to stop everything else I'm doing to organize. My life seems to be a head long rush from one project to the next with little time to assess, to reflect, or to put anything away.

Over the years I've come to the realization that this surge and rest process isn't very effective. A couple years back I shared with a youth group the story of a piece of paper that sat on my desk for over a year. On it I had written a phrase. I know what happened. I was surging along when this phrase leapt into my mind. It summed up all the concepts that I'd been juggling, I had a great idea on how to build a lesson, a column or a sermon on that single phrase. It was going to be BRILLIANT!!

I had to write it down before I forgot it! Once it was immortalized on paper I could then put it on hold till the latest surge was over. But the surge lasted a long time, and the scrap got buried under a pile of other stuff. When I finally brought it back to light all that was left was the phrase. I didn't remember what it referred to any more. The brilliance that it had focused was gone.

I kept that paper for many months afterwards. Hoping that perhaps, under just the right circumstances, the veil would part and I would catch just of glimpse of what I had seen before. From that I could try to re-build the thoughts. The glimpse never came. Finally I threw the paper away because there were just too many other scraps and sheets and pages of thoughts and ideas that had built up behind it. I still feel sad about that scrap of paper and thought. I've repeated the process several times more since then, but it's that one that still stands as the symbol for lost inspiration to me.

Today I'm surrounded again by a desk awash with papers. Some are notes from meetings from as long as a year and a half ago. Forms, reminders, business cards, notes for letters I meant to write, requests that need to be processed, projects on seemingly perpetual hold. I'm almost afraid to sift through the piles. The fear lurks that I'll find another paper with another amputated phrase on it.

What I'm really searching for is balance. Balance between the necessary and the numinous. I have been a creative person all my life. Photography, writing, acting, my work as a radio personality, all are about creating for me. These piles on this desk are equal parts that which must be done and that which I am called to do. For me to reach (or at least reach towards) those goals I must stop setting things aside for some day. But how do I work on the necessary and still honor the revelation of the numinous? Inspiration can be a fragile gift with a short life span. I can not simply say "Well now is the scheduled time to be creative. Let inspiration flow!"

On the other hand am I prepared to bury more inspirations that have withered before their time?

Meanwhile the piles grow higher and some inspiration begins to fade buried deep within.


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