Waking the sleepy dragon
Part 1. The Secret
When is it that I push past the ordinary and touch upon the extraordinary -- those time when I am attuned to the universe, tapping into my best skills and fulfilling a fine purpose? I discovered that I have a formula and it's not magic.
1) I need to be still -- stillness as a state of mind, not restless, distracted, fretting. And I need to sit my ass in the chair. This is the main discipline: butt in chair, a purpose, a plan, enough skill to proceed, focus.
2) I need to have all the correct tools at my fingertips, whether it's pencil and paper, software or needle and thread. Tools for taking notes, documenting the process are also important. Mustn't lose track.
3) Lots of raw material to work with. Lots. Enough to give me an almost overpowering sense of abundance -- the tide of infinite possibilities.
- At my career, I processed massive amounts of variables into inventive indicators of quality and program success
- At Pat Drum Aerobics, I processed tons of photos and videos into schematic drawings.
- During my peak movie-making years, I pulled structure and story out of miles of sometimes terrible video.
- Vast numbers of cousins were organized into a useful family tree.
- Persistence is slowly beating Jim's vast collections into something we can get our arms around
Yes, it's this slow, steady work that is the secret of whatever success I've had in life. Whatever "brilliance" I have grows like finicky flowers in an experimental garden. It doesn't rocket across the sky like a shooting star. As I write this, I'm making a quilt from old clothes. I had to rip apart and organize enough clothing for several quilts before I felt that sense of abundance that allows me to get going on the actual project.
Part 2. The Mundane Trinity in Place, Then What?
Once my three ingredients are in place, what happens next? Well, I sit there, sifting through my raw material, making notes... Before long, little connections get made, ideas surface, maybe a false start or two occur as different options are tested. If I stick with it, committing to time it takes, something creative gets accomplished.
Who or what provides the energy for these ingredients to "cook"? Does it come from "out there" (e.g., muse, Holy Spirit, spirit guide, patron saint, ancestor, ascended master, daemon)? Or does it rise from deep inside (e.g., from the soul, the gut, the heart, brain chemistry)?
Pat and I have fun with this question. I give my cartoon character Dash her fairy-like Dot -- but is it "Dot" who I'm talking about here? (Ellen and I had a wine-enriched debate about this.) Then Pat invented (or discovered) her "Melf." Melf ("the self elf" I think of him as) uses osmosis on any given day to become immanent within Pat or emanate from the transcendant universe. Very clever.
I always figured that my best epiphanies rose up from deep inside me, from my belly.
So, if good ideas pop into my brain like dandelions on a May morning, then the nourishing life force must live deep in the earth below. Like a worm, aerating and composting? No -- a dragon!! A lovely gold dragon, with ruby eyes. When all the right elements are in place -- raw material, tools, butt in chair -- he rises up, snorting fire, stretching up to my brain and out to my finger tips. I hum with energy and productivity. Spine-tingling time!
Of course, I realize that my dragon would just as soon stay curled asleep in my belly, like an old hound dog that has to be whipped into hunting. So, practicing becoming quiet in my chair, organizing my tools, and rounding up raw material are all necessary rituals required to provoke my old dragon into action.
Not that I always want to submit to the overpowering forces of a fire-breathing dragon churning up more inspirations and epiphanies than I can possibly deal with. That's why I decided to call him Dred. Dred the Dreadful. Maybe I have elements of a tired old hound too.
It always helps me (and occasionally others) to diagram out my brainy concepts. Forces me to think the ideas through and becomes a form of meditation. I can't draw a dragon worth a damn, so I had to be very schematic in depicting Dred the Dreadful.