Where I write

Where I write

March 27, 2014

Creative Drought

It's been a dry and warm winter here in Arizona. Rainfall has been sparse, or non-existent.  I've heard all about the the snowy, grey and cold winter people have had in the Midwest and Northeast this year. I wouldn't want to trade that harsh weather for the balmy winter in Phoenix. Still, the lack of moisture in the desert has made for minimal, close to zero, desert flowers blooming this Spring. Last year at this time the desert was awash in yellow, and orange and purple, and grass even sprouted from the stark desert floor.

The desert is a fragile yet tough place, like a wide, burly football player who cries at sappy romance movies.  Those who don't know the desert well might assume it is unchanging. In the Spring, when there has been plenty of rain, it alters and flourishes with color. Alas, not this year as you can see from photo above. It's been so dry my car windshield wipers forgot how to work.

While hiking this week on a familiar trail outside of Phoenix a few days ago, I thought the desert, and the drought here in the southwest, is a metaphor for my own creative life. The lack of rain similar to the lack of time and attention I've been giving to my writing.

I don't know about you, but I get busy busy, like a bee building a hive, with tasks, appointments, family obligations, work, and life. Oh it's not that I'm complaining. I enjoy so much about life, my family and friends, but just like the flowers missing from the desert this year, the color creativity gives to my life is absent.  Sure I feel productive when I check off something on my weekly to do list, tell someone how much I accomplished that day.  Sometimes it's as if I'm trying to prove I'm worthy to be on this earth. Look how much I can do in a day! Aren't I amazing.
As I climbed higher on the dusty and oh so dry trail, I thought why not look for small ways the desert is creative, even in a drought.

I saw a tiny yellow poppy that sprouted in the sandy dirt. One step of a hiker's boot could destroy it's delicate perfection, which made it even more important that I appreciate it while it lasted. How brief we are on this earth, and does it really matter, I thought, if I cross everything off my to do list?

I spotted some tiny purple flowers clustered beneath a rock. They were so small that they could easily be missed, but they matter just the same. Perhaps, I thought as I walked that day, if I take even small amounts of time to write, to honor my creativity, that would be enough.  The flowers didn't worry if they were accomplished, and I was glad they were just there for me to enjoy.

The tips of the Ocotillo Cactus bloom a bright, showy orange, but this year they look starved for rain, shriveled and downright silly, like dried chili peppers. The Ocotillo Cactus doesn't care if its blooms aren't perfect. I could be like this cactus. Not as skinny, of course, but let myself write and not attempt to be pefect. Just be.

Because there are so few flowers, I was delighted to see this bunch of daisies blooming bright. One of the best parts of writing, is to be surprised by my creativity. Life is even more interesting when we are creative for when we create, no matter if its dancing, or singing, or cooking, it takes us to places unexpected. We can delight not just ourselves, but people around us. It enhances my joy in life, to wear a scarf someone has crocheted, eat tomatoes from someone's garden, or hang a oil painting on my wall done by a friend.

I finished my hike and I realized I had looked mostly down on the ground during my walk. Well, it is important to look out for snakes and other things that bite. I stopped and, beneath the hot sun, gazed at the sky. It looked like thousands of angel wing's stitched together. As I write this now, I think oh that sounds dumb. There's that inner critic again, the enemy of creativity.
I write the sentence anyway.

The desert isn't ashamed  because it it lacks Spring flowers this year. It isn't beating itself up because it is in a drought.

I made a promise to write even if the time I have, and the work I do, feels as insignificant as that one yellow poppy. Our creative lives do matter, if only to us.


Rita A. said...

Fantastic post. Thank you for sharing your bits of creativity.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post and beautiful pictures. I love it when natures reflects what's happening inside of us. :-)