Bringing Myself to the Studio

Start Close In
by David Whyte

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with the ground you know,
the pale ground beneath your feet,
your own way of starting the conversation.
Start with your own questions,
give up on other people's questions,
don't let them smother something simple.
To find another's voice,
follow your own voice,
wait until that voice
becomes a private ear listening to another.
Start right now
take a small step you can call your own
don't follow someone else's
heroics, be humble and focused,
don't mistake that other for your own.
Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

I used to fret about painting.  What was I going to get done?  Was I going to be creative today?  Do I have what it takes to be an artist?  Is my work good enough?  How can I make great works of art?  There are so many artists better than myself, what do I have to offer?   All of these thoughts and more would flood my mind and defeat me before I even got started.  I would feel great resistance and then begin to procrastinate or try to escape.  I was listening to my own mind chatter and believing it.  It is amazing what great excuses I could produce. 

Then I began meditating, allowing all the mind activity to be as it is and as I saw how much it was trying to "save" me from disappointment, hurt, loss, uncertainty, etc., etc. It kept me small, it kept me weak and it kept me stagnate.

What about just taking the first baby step, like a child in the dark, feeling my way, thinking it might not be so "dangerous" after all.  So staying close in to my own experience, following my desires, knowing something different would happen, creating possibilities for myself, I brought my awareness and attention as my guide.   I found a new way to paint. 

Now, as I step into my studio, something changes inside me too.  There is a melting, a softening of all concerns other than being here ready to greet my present experience and deepen into myself, staying close, not thinking of the second step, or the third,.......  There is a spaciousness.  I feel a relaxation in my body as I breathe in strength and exhale gentleness.  I become aware of myself and how I inhabit the studio space.  I feel a sensitivity to the atmosphere, the sounds, the light, and my inner and outer worlds become one.  A joy, a curiosity, an excitement percolates from this place. 

As I choose music and change into my painting clothes, I notice and relish an appreciation for my life.  With deep gratitude, I start the day by fully accepting the invitation of creative collaboration with the mystery.  I look at my paints, feel their colors and textures, have an affection for my well-worn tools, and say "hi" to my unfinished images that have become my "friends." 

My painting day begins....

Please share as you wish your thoughts on what keeps you from going into your studio and what you look forward to when you start to create.   We are all together in this creative journey of life and art.