Bless the Mess & Trust the Process
You’ve started your project. And now you have no idea where it wants to go, what it wants to be, or worse, should be. You’ve crossed the burning sands of doubt. You’ve penetrated the threshold between inspiration and action. You’ve entered the Presidio of Imperfektion marring the pristine whiteness of the blank canvas, the blank page. You are in the Flow.
As humans, we perceive a finite amount of information through our eyes. We see a fraction of the many spectrums of light that surround us. Our ability to perceive is limited, but our ability to imagine is great. When we create we open ourselves to the realm of the archetypal Child where play and imagination paint worlds our rational minds could never conceive. This is neither the time nor the place to be realistic.
Einstein played here. So did Edison, Tesla, Erhardt, von Bingen, Imhotep, Paracelsus, cummings, Michelangelo, Kahlo, Bucky Fuller and so many others. The point? The sandbox is wide and open and you are in good — great — creative company.
But you notice something. You sputter. You stop. You start. “I thought I was past this stage,” You may say to yourself. This stage of hesitation is supposed to be behind you. The block of perfectionism should have been whittled to a fine powder and blown away.
Press forward into the paradox of creativity where every ending is a beginning. This is The Flow, the eye of the labyrinth — a living labyrinth. It changes shape, shifts its structure. It’s geometry gestates, gesticulates, and gyrates. One moment you know where ‘this’ is going, the next, you feel lost. Quite amazing, isn’t it?
At times, the maze is a spiral. But spirals coil up and down don’t they? Sometimes, your journey is lofty and the vista is clear right before you fall into the murky maw of uncertainty and doubt.
Honor Chaos. Bow to it. Make it welcome. Surrender to its sinister succulence. As difficult as it is to grasp at times, our projects, our art, our creations have lives of their own. We may begin with an outline and an end in mind or on paper, but what Gibran said to parents about children can easily apply to our creations: they come through us; they do not belong to us.
Chaos is that eternal ‘teenager’ of creativity: a phase of awkward growth. I once had a pet iguana named Ace. As you know, when snakes, iguanas and other reptiles grow they shed their skin. The first time I witnessed Ace in the throes of growth I remember thinking, something’s wrong, this shouldn’t be. Loose, pale skin clung to him like leftover blister material that fit — or didn’t fit! — like a bad costume. One piece stuck to his eye and waved hello and goodbye every time he blinked. He looked painful. I wanted to peel, pluck and fix him.
But I had to trust the process. This phase was a necessary byproduct of his growth. Eventually, all the loose skin fell away and I beheld a beautiful, vibrant green Ace. He looked like a work of art.
Honoring chaos, we are making Aces. From the innocent spark of inspiration, the pristine blank canvas or page, the perfect outline or sketch, and then, the letting go, allowing the certainty, the formula, the expectations of perfection to peel and reveal the masterpieces we had in mind, yet beyond anything we’ve ever dreamed, muttering a mantra along the way: Bless the mess and trust the process.