As a creative, poet, and voracious reader, I read hundreds of poems every week. I came upon one a few days ago that stood out because it spoke so brilliantly about how we create our own containers, but we do not belong to them. Here is the poem by Alice Walker titled When You See Water.
When you see water in a stream
you say: oh, this is stream
When you see water in the river
you say: oh, this is water
of the river;
When you see ocean
you say: This is the ocean’s
But actually water is always
and does not belong
to any of these containers
though it creates them.
And so it is with you.
What I am thinking about this week is: how am I holding myself back in my creativity by boxing myself in? How do I need to more often remember that I am the water, not what contains it? In so many ways over the years, I have told myself some version of: “No, you cannot write about that.” or “No, that is for other writers to say, but not you. you are not ready / capable / good enough / wise enough / clever enough / etc. to write about those things.”
I had decided I was a certain kind of container who could, therefore, only contain certain things. I was a river, so I could only write about river. What I did not realize was that I am the water, and my water was ready to be ocean. It wasn’t about defining myself, it was about flowing where I naturally needed to go.
If something is true for you, and it burns inside to be created, written about, painted about, sung about, then that is your water, that is your life and it will flow in its own way as long as you do not judge it or try in some (ill-fitting, unbecoming, overburdensome) way to define it by some arbitrary parameters you yourself impose upon it.
Our job as artists is not to become so worried about how to contain a work, or restrain it, or fit-it-in to what we think the rest of the world will accept or is ready for. Our job as artists is to be one with our own personal creative flow.
And when we are oceans we will be ocean. and when we are rivers we will be river. and when we are rain we will be rain. and so it is.
Until next time, I’m sending you so much love & go-with-your-flow inspiration,
If you are afraid to write it,
that’s a good sign.
I suppose you know you’re
truth when you’re terrified.
—Yrsa Daley-Ward, bone.
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I’ve just finished reading The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward. A lyrical memoir about going under, losing yourself, & finding your voice. Yrsa’s ability to pierce the veil & get straight to the heart, to place her hands on the pulse of a thing, is astounding. You will come away stronger because she is vulnerable but never once flinches. An outstanding, haunting, gutting, redeeming read.
From The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward.