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Excerpted from Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. Copyright 2002 by Julia Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 

"The act of making art is a direct path to contact with God."

  Julia Cameron, Walking in This World, Part 5

So much of the difficulty with beginning lies in our perception that we have "so far to go." We have separated art from process into product -- "So far to go until it's finished"-when we think like that and we have also separated ourselves from God. When we are afraid to begin, it is always because we are afraid we are alone-tiny, like little Davids facing giant Goliaths. But we are not alone.

God is present everywhere. The act of making art is a direct path to contact with God, and we do not need to travel any geographic or psychic distance to experience the grace of creation in the grace of our own creating.

Goethe told us, "Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace and power in it." This was no mere bromide. It was a report on spiritual experience-an experience that each of us can have whenever we surrender to being a beginner, whenever we dismantle our adult's aloof avoidance and actively seek the Great Creator's hand by reaching out our own to start anew.

If we stop watching the movies in our head with the scary sound tracks and start listening to things like "Whistle While You Work" or "Zippity Doo-Dah," we may begin to make a little headway. We need to get into reality. Art is about making art, nothing more dramatic than that. Puccini may have written Madame Butterfly, but he still hummed as he walked on a sunny street. He still ate pasta and he still spent enough time with his friends to concoct a plot the village gossip might handily have provided. High art is made by people who have friends and the need to dine on more than inspiration soup.

TASK: What the Hell, You Might As Well

Often we experience a sense of powerlessness because we do not see any direct action that we can take to concretely alter our sense of being stuck, in a particular way. At times like this we'd do well not to be so linear. Sometimes, we need to exercise just a little elbow grease in any creative direction that we can find. If nothing else, taking a small creative action moves us out of the victim position. Suddenly, we realize that we do have choices and options and that our passivity may boil down to a stubborn laziness, a sort of tantrum that says "If I can't make X better right now, then I am not going to do anything." Instead of a tantrum, try doing this instead:

Take pen in hand and number down from 1 to 20. List 20 small, creative actions you could take. For example:

1. Paint the kitchen windowsill.
2. Hang lace on my bedroom door.
3. Put the primrose into a good pot.
4. Change the downstairs shower curtain.
5. Buy photo albums and put my dog pictures in one.
6. Send my sister the fudge recipe she asked for.
7. Send my sister fudge.
8. Buy red socks.
9. Wear them to church.
10. Make a computer file of poems I love.
11. Send a great poem to each of my friends.
12. Photograph my current life and send the pictures to my grandmother.
13. Designate something a "God Jar," a special incubator for my dreams and hopes.
14. Designate something else a "what the hell!" basket for my resentment, annoyances, and fears.
15. Throw a slumber party and request that each guest bring a good ghost story to tell.
16. Make a pot of soup.
17. Give away every outfit I even mildly dislike.
18. Get a CD player for my car and stock it.
19. Go to a great perfume store and get one great perfume.
20. Take an elderly friend to a good aquarium.

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