What’s in the Creative Soup?

A month ago I shared a post about what sorts of things were going into my big pot of creative soup.  So much has happened in that month that it seems more like six months ago that I wrote that.  Now more than ever it’s important to think about the ingredients that are going into our current pot of creative soup.  There is the impulse to want to gather all the information that is possible and fill the pot only with statistics and information in order to be prepared and protect our families from the COVID 19 virus.  That’s important but would be a very bitter soup.  It’s important to season the soup with the herbs and spices that give the soup more flavor.   It reminds me of a soup recipe I tried once that was supposed to help with warding off illness.  It had lots and lots of garlic and other health-promoting ingredients and tasted more like medicine than a tasty soup.  The garlic was important but it wasn’t balanced with any other ingredients that added more interesting flavor.  I’m straying a bit with this analogy but I think you see where I’m going.  We need that information but we also need things that bring us joy, make us laugh, connect us with others, and yes, even distract us.

So here are just a few of the ingredients of my creative soup during the past month.  Perhaps you will add a few of these to your pot.  And please share anything that has enriched your soup recently.

** I’m mostly continuing my “analog time” that I spoke of last month.  I’ve had a few days of being distracted from it but at least 5 out of 7 days I have about 30 minutes of quiet time, reading and thinking at the beginning of my day.  It’s been too tempting some days to check the news first thing and that can lead down a rabbit hole but I’m slowly getting back to avoiding the news and the technology for the first half-hour or so of my day.

** One of the things I’ve been reading in the morning is a wonderful book called The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell. I’ve actually been reading it since January. It’s a book that, in my opinion, is best read slowly and savored.  Haskell is a biologist at the University of the South and chronicles a year observing a patch of forest (he calls it a mandala!) in the Tennesee mountains.  He writes so poetically and with such a wide understanding and knowledge of the natural world that I am totally drawn into that world of wonder and infinite connections.  One of my favorite quotes is “layers of delight are hidden by the limitations of everyday human vision.”  This book is a gentle, meditative read that helps to uncover those layers of delight.

** Laura Valenti is a wonderful teacher and photographer.  I’ve taken a few online classes with her in the past and always come away seeing the world in new ways. She offered a short course specifically for this time, Arise & Shine: Photo Meditations for Challenging Times which is based on the Buddhist loving-kindness mediation.  It’s been a good way for me to be intentional about getting out with my camera, which is always a centering practice for me.  And it’s wonderful to see the way other people interpret the ideas in both images and words.  You can enjoy the imagery and meditations on Instagram by following the hashtag for the class, #ariseshinemetta.  The images above are just a few of that I’ve created during the class, so far.

** Music has always been a big part of my days and I made up a special playlist for times when I need to move a bit and shake off the heaviness of the news.  If that sounds good to you, listen to it here.

** For my birthday, a friend gifted me the wonderful book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.  It is a deceptively simple but profound and gorgeous book, one that can be read through in one sitting or picked up and read a random page at a time.   The combination of exquisite line drawings and powerful, handwritten thoughts is magical and moving.  These are just two of so many wonderful quotes from the book.

“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”

“When things get difficult remember who you are.’
‘Who am I?’ asked the boy
‘You are loved’ said the horse”

The soup pictured is one that I made this month from this recipe. It’s a chili that features chocolate as one of the ingredients.  So good!!

Let me know what’s in your creative soup this month.

I leave you with this portion of the Lovingkindness Meditation:

May you be happy.
May you be loved.
May you be safe.
May you be at peace.
May you be healthy.
May you be free.
May you transcend anxiety and sorrow.