This week I return to the idea of 'trusting the process'.
As well as a way to embody our creative practice, could it also be a mantra for this time of Coronavirus lockdown?
Listen to the audio or, if you prefer, read the (slightly edited) transcript.
Trust the Process - Transcript
Hi everyone, it's Cherry week three of lockdown in the south of Spain.
I hope you're doing okay, keeping well, keeping sane!
This week it's been a bit of a challenge. Definitely some dark nights the soul. I'm sure you're having a few of those as well. Some days really good and other days just feeling despair.
I think this is normal. Something that we've just got to process and allow ourselves to go through. We're not in normal times. It's unreasonable to expect ourselves not to have these fluctuations and to sometimes feel confused or sad. So I'm feeling we need to give ourselves some compassion.
How I do and don't trust the process in my art and my life
I'd like to talk this week about a concept you've probably heard me wittering on about before called Trust the Process. This is a concept I first came across in a book by the same name by Shaun McNiff who is - I hope he still is - an art therapist in the US. His very interesting book talks about many of the difficulties that we face as artists in the creative process.
Trusting the process is something that I think could become a talisman for our experience right now.
It's something that when I was younger in terms of my life I was much more able to do. I was never very good at forward planning. I was much more of a person who went with the flow and said "Oh I'm gonna do this now." Or "This seems like a good thing, let me do that." I really was very easy in my sense of moving with what felt natural in terms of my life plan.
That said, I wasn't good at trusting the process with my creativity. I had a strong feeling of needing to know. I wanted to know what the outcome was going to be of what I was creating.
That really hampered me for the first half of my adult life. It meant I could just never really believe in myself and what was going to come out if I just kept on working on something. I kept wanting to know this was the right direction to be going in. This was what I was going to produce. This was going to get me where I needed to go.
It was really only when I came across McNiff's book that that began to change.
And so in the second half of my life I experienced this wonderful revelation that I could trust where my creative direction would take me. And as I began to trust this process, I began to find my creative voice. And creating my art became so much easier. The struggle that was there before just disappeared.
But perversely, in the way of life, my ability to trust the process in my daily life seemed to go down in inverse proportion to the trust that I was able to give to my creative process!
I began to worry a lot more about the direction of my life: looking at what plans I should I make. Was I making the right decisions? Looking back at decisions I'd made and thinking perhaps I hadn't made the right decisions. Looking around at other people and thinking "Oh, if only I'd done this or that, made this or that decision, perhaps I would be in a different place now." That was something I'd never, ever done before and I suddenly found myself doing a lot.
And, again, this feeling of wanting to know the outcome. If I did this, would it be the right decision? Would it take me where I needed to go? That introduced a lot of anxiety into my life that had never been there previously because before I just went with the flow.
So now here we are in this crazy situation of world paralysis. And what seems like it will be a complete change when we eventually emerge from this. The world will look like a different place - and not necessarily for the good of everyone - but hopefully, ultimately, we can find a better path than the one we were on before we went into this.
Trusting the process during lockdown
So what does this have to do with trusting the process?
I'm finding that I'm going back to the idea that all we can do right now is trust that if we do the things we need to do - social distancing, wearing masks and gloves when we go out, staying at home - and we trust that we will find a way through this. And that we will, as a world, come out in a better place than we were.
So, in a way, it's returning to how I used to feel and there's a relief in that. There's a relief in feeling that perhaps we don't need to be in control. We don't need to feel that everything is within our remit to shape. sometimes things are just bigger than we are and we have to submit to that. And perhaps find a new wisdom in understanding our place in something much bigger than ourselves.
I hope that's given you something to think about. Or a few minutes of diversion at their very least!
Stay well, stay at home and I'll speak to you soon.
Want more studio sneak peaks?
Impromptu recordings like this are part of the offering in my upcoming Sketchbook subscription.
Get the first in my sketchbook series FREE when it’s released!
(If you're already subscribed to my newsletter or RSS feed, just use your regular email address.)