by Shaun McNiff
Published by Shambhala
rating 4.5 out of 5
Over the weekend J. Kaye asked if I ever review the books that I read on art and photography. My initial response is, no. Primarily I do not review them because I do not see myself as having enough time to do the review justice. Right now I seem to be in an acquisition mode, that is, I want to learn as much as I possibly can in the short amount of time that I have. I really do not want to take the time to review a book (I think to date I have read in excess of 30 books on these subjects), when that time can be spent advancing my learning. Somewhat selfish, I know.
But I also choose not to review these books because I am afraid that there is a limited audience for these kinds of posts. Most of the book bloggers that I read tend to read fiction - either contemporary or classics. While a few review a non-fiction book here or there, the book itself seems to be more mainstream, that is, appealing to a wider audience. Art and photography books are definitely a select niche.
I have decided to break my silence, so to speak, with this book: Trust the Process. This book has opened my eyes in more ways than one. First of all I must confess, I did not start reading this book from the beginning (egads!!) Now for those of you that know me, you know this is a major deviation in my reading routine. I am someone who cannot read a series out of sequence, so how on earth could I start reading from the middle of a book?
Well, I had tried starting at the beginning - twice - and I was just not drawn in. But for some reason I felt as though I was supposed to read this book (I can't explain why -- but it simply would not let me go). So I sat there thumbing through the pages when I came across Chapter 4: Create With What You Already Have. The title instantly caught my attention, and here is the opening paragraph:
One of the first steps in the practice of creating is to identify areas in your life where the artistic consciousness is already at work but not fully appreciated - writing letters to friends, decorating your house, arranging things in your living space, interactions with people at work, managing the flow of paper on your desk, gardening, walking through the neighborhood, cooking, playing a sport, exercising, driving the car. It may be more useful to further your creative practice by beginning with things that you already do.
.....As a way of beginning, I suggest becoming a witness to your life as you live it. (page 141)
While I was struck by the first sentence (you mean organizing my desk is creative?! Cooking the evening meal is creative?!) --- it was the last sentence that caused me to stop and meditate. For years I have lived my life as an efficiency machine. I have been ruled by the to-do list and if I accomplished all the tasks in a given day, then it was a good day; if I failed to accomplish all tasks then it was a bad day. I have never taken the time to be a witness to my own life. What value is there is observing life around me? That is wasted productivity.
Well, is it any wonder that my creativity has lain dormant for all these years? Good grief, I am my own worst enemy.
Suffice it to say....I have taken countless notes from this book and I plan to re-read these notes long after I have returned the book to the library on August 13. While the author tends to focus on sculpting and painting as expressions of creativity, I found it very easy to substitute writing, photography, scrapbooking....whatever aspects of creativity that I already possess.
This book resonated with me; it met my need for this moment in my life. For that reason alone I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is also anxious to get in touch with their creative side and desire to let go a little - and live a lot.