“I like to think of the mind as a room. In that room, we keep all of our usual ideas about life, God, what’s possible and what’s not. The room has a door. That door is ever so slightly ajar, and outside we can see a great deal of dazzling light. Out there in the dazzling light are a lot of new ideas that we consider too far-out for us, and so we keep them out there. The ideas we are comfortable with are in the room with us. The other ideas are out, and we keep them out.” -Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way (51)
The other day a friend wrote to me, explaining why she couldn’t do The Artist’s Way. 1) She was way too busy. It would be impossible to do Morning Pages as she didn’t have 15 or 20 minutes a day to devote to them. And then, 2) now that her children are older, she spends all of her time doing things solo, and has lots of personal time, so Artist’s Dates are completely unnecessary.
It took me a little while to process this, and to realize that I make the same excuses, even now (even though I am committed). I’m too busy. I’m not busy enough, or (as I usually put it), I selfishly already spend plenty of time doing whatever it is I want to do….
Okay, Bethany, which one is it?
One of my favorite exercises from The Artist’s Way is the Imaginary Lives one–what other 5 lives can you imagine for yourself? I begin the exercise reluctantly, then I get into it. I would raise horses. Be a visual artist. A film-maker. A famous poet (key-note speaker at conferences! leading a group of poets on a trip to Ireland! 8 or 10 books of poems! devoted disciples!). A mystery-novelist (like Agatha Christie or Donna Leon, with 18-100 mysteries!).
It’s fun to imagine creating a different life, especially when you don’t have to actually create it. (It’s impossible! I could never do that!)
But then Julia Cameron asks us to imagine what one or two small pieces of one of those lives you might insert into this life. And that’s where the real fun begins. Crack that door open, just let a tiny bit of change in, and see what happens.