F is for Feather
One of the qualities of feathers that’s pretty much universally identifiable is that they are light. It is beautiful and a lovely meditative practice to simply slow down and watch a feather slowly descend, fluttering in the air, reaching the ground in its own time and own, often circuitous way.
From the lightness of feathers, often I think of the unforgettable book, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. This book was required reading during the early years of college, with many an animated discussion surrounding its reading. What stands out to me and why I want to include it in this discussion about Creative Blocks is that if we can borrow one of its thematic sentiments, that life is indeed to be lived surrounded by lightness, we can break through the block of our creativity.
Blocks are heavy. They are self-important and all-absorbing. What if we were to take a new tact? What if being the very opposite of what the blocks want, could help us? A lighter attitude towards life, and our creativity within that life can yield results.
I know. I was blocked up from my visual art for many years. When I started in the arts, they were fun. Drawing and painting outdoors, overlooking a lake, focused on the forest beyond—what could be better? Then I went to college. College is good. I’m not knocking it entirely but with that BFA comes a new type of seriousness. You might deem that serious attitude as heaviness. In the sixties when people would say, “Hey, that’s heavy,” we knew heavy was a very serious thing, just from how it was said.
I went on to get an MFA—again, not entirely knocking the degrees. They are useful. I learned a lot but, with the conference of that second degree came a bit more heaviness. Shortly after earning the degree, I became a professor. I imagine you know where I’m going with this. What began as a light activity, full of joy, delight and enchantment, got bogged down. Over the years it got heavier and heavier until it couldn’t breathe anymore and I had to stop.
Years later, I returned to my art, with a lighter attitude. I decided to do what I like—what gives me joy and perhaps brings joy to others. Now, I don’t have the same college degrees in writing, but I come to it at times with lightness and others with heaviness. You know where this is headed as well. When I’m heavy-thinking and heavy-handed with my writing, it collapses under the weight. I freeze up and productivity ceases.
Naturally, being the type of artist I am, when I am bogged down I reach out for beautiful things. One of those things I’ve gravitated towards as a writer is a quill writing pen.
With the quill pen in my writing hand, I imagine my thoughts flowing, perhaps even flying out of my mind. These thoughts are unencumbered. They flow freely, with the aid of the gorgeous and historic writing tool. I’m not saying it’s easy to use a quill pen, though part of their usefulness to me, as a freeing-up exercise is the concentration it requires to use the pen.
There is containment in their use: you, the pen, ink, paper and thoughts, then too, there are the symbolic references conjured up by the feather.