Mediated life

The shape of a thought is not the same as the shape of the words on a page. And therein lies the risk when working with any medium creatively.

Any medium — language, wood, fabric, or lines, sounds and shapes — has a way of guiding your hand, your mind, to make you do with it what’s known to be done with it, to continue along lines explored before.

Creativity is an unruly force. It can sometimes be channeled like running water through a hose, but it can also starve and die if you try to tame it too much.

Last weekend I went to a zoo, not because I wanted to see animals, but because I wanted to look at the zoo itself, this artificial environment that had been created to contain life. It was obvious that the pelicans didn’t grasp that their wings had been clipped. Their attempted behaviors seemed unaffected. Next to them and above in the trees, local herons displayed the power of their freedom, flying and nesting and all the while chatting. It’s not the air that made them fly, or their wings, it’s their life.

Expression is not derived from a medium, it’s a force moved through a medium by life.

And yet, when we sit down to see what patterns may pour themselves onto a page or into a space, what takes over all too often is the boring snoring of the pouring itself, because life has gotten used to its cage, it’s asleep, it needs rest, it needs space, it needs to remember that

it’s safe
to come out
and play.

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