I’d like you to notice the photograph to the left. I took that photograph on Saturday. I know that it isn’t particularly impressive, but here’s why I’m proud of it. I figured out how to get the exposure right using the manual mode on my camera! This is a big deal for me. For the last twenty years, I’ve used expensive SLR cameras without ever understanding aperture or shutter speed or ISO. I’ve just used one or another of the automatic settings on my camera, and hoped for the best. On Saturday I spent the day at a photography workshop, learning about these elements and practicing how to “make pictures” instead of “take pictures.”
It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to learn about for ages, and when the opportunity came up for this workshop, I thought, ‘Now is the perfect time.’ In the past couple of years I’ve made it a priority to say yes to these kinds of experiences. After my divorce, I realized how much of myself I’d given up in service to relationship and family. One of the big holes in my life was creativity. I was feeding my creative impulses in my work, but I didn’t have any satisfying creative expression in my personal life.
There were all kinds of things I’d been meaning to do. I’d been meaning to incorporate regular writing practice into my life. I’d been meaning to learn how to take beautiful photographs. I’d been meaning to find ways to include dancing and singing in my life. As I explored my sense of longing for these creative elements, I realized how important artistry was to me and how long I’d ignored this impulse.
By then I was writing every day, filling journal after journal as I processed the shock and grief and anger that came for me along with the divorce. But I realized that I wanted more: I wanted to write poetry. I wanted to write a book. I wanted an audience. And I wanted to explore all those other creative possibilities I’d been thinking about.
And so when poetry flowed out of me after my father died, I said yes, and wrote it all down. When Natalie Goldberg offered a writing workshop on a nearby island, I said yes, and got myself on the ferry to Cortes as fast as I could. When I heard about the National Write a Novel in a Month challenge, I said, “Hell, Yes!” and signed up before I could talk myself out of it. When I’ve had the opportunity to write or dance or paint, I’ve said yes. And what a difference it makes in my life. It fills me up, brings me energy, gets me closer to the essential Sally.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, writes, “…a woman’s creative ability is her most valuable asset, for it gives outwardly and it feeds her inwardly at every level…” When I write, when I make photographs, when I dance, I’m feeding my soul.
The other day, Susan commented on on of my posts: “Is this blog just about dating and finding a new man?” No it isn’t, Susan. Thank you for reminding me.