I can’t believe it’s been nine months since I moved to the Oregon Coast. Some adjustments have been huge, some small. One thing that’s changed: all my jacket pockets are lined with sand.
When I walk the beach, the sun gleams on frills of incoming tide. Waves ebb, revealing sunset striations of shells. Driftwood branches twist like the elegant limbs of dancers. The rocks are warm and curious in their smooth, odd shapes. I stoop, turn a stone in my hands, stand breathing.
Can’t resist filling my pockets.
Then I get home and empty my pockets. The rocks are ordinary, dull, flat rocks, and the shells are all broken, and the driftwood is riddled with knotholes, leaking grit all over the floor.
I left the beach.
It’s the same with our art. When you or I absorb ourselves in wonder, relaxation, musing, and breath, we recognize the beauty we are holding. But then we walk away, removing ourselves to a harsher light. We set down our ideas, shake our heads and say, “What was I thinking? That idea (story, painting, poem) isn’t special. It’s a waste of time.”
Being a brilliant artist seems to require technique or talent or something we haven’t got.
Being brilliant is this:
Staying on the beach.
You can’t sustain passion for writing or creating if you are hurrying yourself along to states of obligation and judgment. Away from the beach, away from the rapture.
I’ve learned how to help myself and others get back to the beach—figuratively, as well as literally.
We can experience breath and ocean, a salt breeze, a stone sparkling. We can fall in love again with our own way of seeing the world.
Don’t leave the beach! Join me in taking time out this summer, a little time every day, a little more time every week, or perhaps a deeper plunge on a retreat. Relish your deepest ways of being. Notice and collect all the beautiful things worth keeping.