We continue our work with the Artist’s Way and Tarot by looking at a theme that would behoove many of us to incorporate into our life: Attention
Attention vs. Our Goals
Julia starts off this section by saying: “Very often, a creative block manifests itself as an addiction to fantasy. Rather than working or living in the now, we spin our wheels and indulge in daydreams of what could have, would have, should have.”
I have encountered some people who call themselves writers, yet they have never written anything. Oh, they read books about writing books, plan out entire novels and stories in their head, daydream about the writer’s life but never put pen to paper (or “fingers to keyboard”, as it were). There are also some folks who claim to read tarot but instead, only read books or blog posts about tarot – they never actually do readings for others, never actually practice developing their skills.
This is a trap that’s very easy to fall into and I have been guilty of this myself. What is needed is attention to what we’re doing, attention to the life we’re leading. It never hurts to stop and ask ourself: “I have these dreams. But am I doing the work to bring them closer to reality? Like one writer so eloquently put it “I can only write when I’m motivated. And I make damned sure I’m motivated every morning at 9:00 a.m.” In other words, we need to show up.
Connecting with our Creative Side
Another way to look at this theme is to live in the now. Being in the present moment allows us to connect more with the rhythms of life. Julia uses a Henry Miller quote to illustrate the importance of attention:
Develop interest in life as you see it; people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
It is in paying attention that we allow our creative side to grow. Living in the moment can provide us with ideas for stories or songs, as we observe snippets of conversation or really take in the beauty around us.
The same goes for Tarot – pay attention to the world around you and look for synchronicities with your readings and/or your card of the day. Looking at the events and people around you and then applying it to a Tarot card (i.e. He’s a real Knight of Wands fellow, her stinginess reminds me of the fellow in the 4 of Pentacles, etc.) can help train you to think in symbols, developing your intuitive ability along the way.
Attention and the Healing Process
Paying attention can also help in the healing process. In fact, Julia states that, “The reward for attention is always healing.” Sometimes, it is much too painful for us to think about the past and the future seems too terrifying to contemplate at the moment – so the safest place to be is here, in the present, right now. The more we do so, the more we begin to realize that each moment has it’s own special beauty and the pain that we suffered through has transformed into experience.
So no more regrets – no more wishing & hoping about what could be. This section – Attention – is an action step that can help us tap back into our creativity. By being more aware of the world around us and showing up to do the work can we transform ourselves into something more in alignment with our dreams.
Draw a random tarot card first thing in the morning while asking “What do I need to most know right now?” Then, paying attention to the people and occurrences throughout your day, see where the card appears and what message it has for you. For instance, receiving your credit card bill might reinforce the appearance of the 4 of Pentacles – you need to spend less of your money and instead, begin focusing on your financial security. Then, journal about your results.
Another task is to sit quietly at the end of the day and do a mental run-through, in chronological order, of the events of your day. As specific incidences come to mind, think of what Tarot card(s) you could apply to the situation. Doing this type of mental review also trains you to be more observant and may also inspire new ideas for art. I received some of my best ideas lying in bed, revisiting my day.
Okay – this isn’t in the book but this is a task that I find especially helpful for me and writers may find it particularly relevant. Go to the mall or a busy marketplace with a pad of paper and a pen. Write down any snippets of conversation you hear. Look around you and write down descriptions, as detailed as possible, of the people around you (discreetly, of course!), the decor of the room you are in, the lighting, the general mood – and anything else that catches your eye. At home, transcribe your notes into a tidbits computer file.
Not only will this exercise provide snippets that we can use in future written work (I’ve gotten some really great character descriptions using this technique), but it also teaches us to be more aware of the world around us and soon, we begin to observe things that normally would have slipped our notice. I’ve heard it once said that in order to be an artist of any kind, you need to spend the majority of time observing the world around you. I tend to agree.