As I sat down to write yesterday morning, I found myself looking at the blank page for a long expanse of time; maybe it was only a few minutes, but it felt vast. I didn’t know what to write.
I’m trying to uncover or unlock the passion I have for writing that has been obscured a bit these past couple of years by a common roadblock of creativity…busy-ness. We know intellectually that we aren’t our best when our days are chock-full of the “shoulds” and to-do lists that leave us exhausted and feeling aimless. How many of you have felt those days that feel packed and busy and futile? The kind where you’ve done “all the things” yet feel like you got nothing done, or didn’t do any of it well? It’s exactly that feeling that I am consciously steering myself away from as I re-frame what I want my days to look and feel like. Being busy can feel like a trap, and a strong one with a powerful lure.
Because this has been a conscious process for me, I felt compelled to explore and name it. What is that state of flow and why is it that I can feel it so strongly and beautifully in various areas of my life, and conversely miss it and feel the intense void of it? Finally I understand that the flow is expression. Expression. And for me (for all?), it is a vital ingredient of the human experience, and must be tended to daily.
We need expression because we require an outlet. The world and this life are asking us to process so much and at warp speed. Our minds and our hearts become taxed and overwhelmed by the weight and the responsibility of all this stimulus. Without some sort of expression, we become bottled up, clogged if you will. The root of the word expression, to express, to let out, tells us all we need to know. Our bodies, minds, and emotions have a capacity for what we can hold and process. Without expression, we are filled to the brim with no room for flow. We feel stuck, stagnant, and in the “I don’t know what to do next” quagmire.
Expression is how we release the valve, take the pressure off, and regain flow. And the beauty of that expression is that it takes all forms. It’s a state of being, rather than a state of doing. It negates “busy-ness” and revels and thrives in consciousness. For me expression is in writing, dancing, conversation (especially those balanced with curiosity and listening). And, it’s also in unexpected places like making breakfast, making study cards with my daughter, and on walks in nature. Expression comes in the form of ideas, movement, sound, art, and even the way you arrange your personal mementos on your dresser top.
Why does expression matter? And, why must we consciously create awareness for expression? Because without it, we are confined to the parameters of our to-do lists, our schedules, even our bank statements. Our scope becomes narrow and we get that feeling that something is missing.
Your assignment for today? Express yourself in a way that feels in flow: verbally, visually by making something with your hands or body or through words. Whether it’s a meal or a blog post or a business plan or a painting or a speech or a bracelet, make something before noon today. You don’t have to complete your expression as some expressions take time, but you do have to begin. Mine was this piece of writing, expressed through my pen and journal in the early hours of the morning. There. Feeling better already.