Bland vs Creative Life

 Allow the paint to chip off the door. Instead, open the door and explore deep inside.

Allow the paint to chip off the door. Instead, open the door and explore deep inside.

“My life is bland.” Those were the words offered by the elderly woman whose life had gone from being an independent, city-dweller, theater-goer to needing care for all her basic needs and more. The words echoed in my mind throughout the day. Who wants to live a bland life? Flavorless, tepid, neutral tones. Late-in-life aging led her to “blandness” (she was in her late 90’s and had been in good health until recently) but I’ve met many, myself included at times, who wear blandness like a familiar sweatshirt. It is easier to pull the same one off the top of the pile than look for something new.

In my last blog on 12/4, I reflected on fear and being free of fear. This woman’s wise words, along with wise friends who held the mirror up to me last weekend after my post was written, seem to be amplifying what has been gnawing at me. A need to go inward has once again resurfaced, though I honestly didn’t recognize it until it was suggested. It had been easier to focus on the external—the “when this happens then I’ll be able to…” That moved responsibility away from doing my own work.

A bland life avoids doing the internal work. Instead it works to keep up appearances. Placing the white picket fence (which isn’t even wood these days, but synthetic materials for easy upkeep) around the borders of the yard, so externally everything is in order—neat and tidy. Everything in place. No upset apple carts. Comfort is a priority—or at least the perception of comfort.

Moving away from the bland life takes a different kind of effort than maintaining it—allowing fences to weather, floors to scuff, weeds to thrive, painting a wall red. It risks sitting in discomfort or even chaos for a period of time to see what will emerge. Emerge. That word by definition means something is rising up out of or coming into existence. A bland life is not creative. I have a magnet that says “out of chaos comes creativity.” Chaos means the disorder or formless state before creation. It sounds intimidating, even frightening. Chaos implies not knowing what the outcome will be, but it also implies something will emerge at the end…it is not an endless process.

Winter solstice is December 21st. Until then the days continue to grow shorter. In the Northern Hemisphere, we will spend more time in dark than light until the Sun-Earth relationship shifts in mid-March. The advent of artificial light keeps us from taking an annual winter trip inward. We have lost the natural rhythm of our bodies as time becomes defined by human made products and not nature's ebbs and flows. Reconnecting with that rhythm needs to be intentional. To go into the formless space within—our own chaos where fires rumble and roil waiting to rise to the surface—and trust that out of that space something new and creative will emerge, is an act of faith. And definitely not bland.

Are you willing? I am. I do not want to live a bland life. Stay tuned to my blog posts and see what emerges.

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And because I don’t believe internal work has to be all straight-on serious, I wrote a couple of haiku playing with blandness (please, if you are familiar with Matsuo Bashō’s or any of the other wonderful haiku poets out there, don’t judge me!):
white bread ham sandwich
yellow mustard, mayo
yearning tuna sushi

knee-length shirtwaist dress
pale pink lip stick, pearl earrings
begging red high heels