Transgression.

Our local public library has a little bookshop outside it’s doors, where patrons can buy books discontinued from the library’s shelves for just a dollar or two a book.

Yesterday, I found myself perusing the selection, looking for something I could turn into a scrapbook. I wanted something with a solid cover and binding, with room for plenty of pictures, pieces of paper and random paraphernalia. I want it to be nice and scrappy, and I want it to last.

I found the perfect fit, in a Good Housekeeping Cookbook from the early 2000s. Hardcover, ring binding, plenty of room to grow. I brought it to the counter and greeted the clerk, ready to pay. As I’m pulling out my $2, she says, half-jokingly, “Now you’ve got to cook.”

Even though moments before, I had been feeling delightfully transgressive for selecting a book without ever using it as it was intended to be used, I tell her. I say, “Actually, it’s going to become a scrapbook.”

To that, she only says, “Oh.” How she feels about my response is indiscernible from my view. Is she crestfallen? Disgusted? Confused? I’m not sure – but she certainly wasn’t delighted, or even curious. She tells me to have a good day.

Today, I find myself thinking about the word “transgression.” It has a heavily negative connotation in common discourse, equated with rule-breaking and crime. But etymologically, to “transgress” simply means to “cross over.” What then, is the true crime of transgression? It’s possessing the gall to step over the boundaries of sanctioned living and enter the realm of the Unknown. It’s reading the instruction manual, passed down through generations, and choosing to do things differently anyways.

Instruction manuals are reliable, but they’re also rather boring. Sometimes, the companion of such a manual is a comfort, but most days, I’d rather toss it in the fire.

Pussy Spark

First, a recent history. A few years back, shortly after giving birth to my eldest daughter, I read Audre Lorde’s article, “The Uses of the Erotic.” Around the same time, or shortly before I had read Vicki Noble’s Shakti Woman and had generally conceived, from these readings and from my own knowing and intuition, that sexuality is not just the practical means for creating new little humans, as I was brought up to believe, but more broadly a creative force. It wasn’t until reading Audre Lorde that I began to understand this force in a way that was consciously experiential.

But suddenly, it opened up for me. I started to pay attention to experiences of arousal outside of explicitly sexual contexts. And thus the pussy spark was born. I noticed that in certain contexts, particularly amidst conversations fantasizing about future ways of living, being, dream systems for small and large society, especially thrilling ones would actually elicit a physical response. The experience is more like a cervical twinge, if I’m to be technical about it – but “cervical twinge” isn’t half as catchy as “pussy spark.”

It came to be a marker system for me, a mind-body-spirit barometer of sorts, complete with many different signifiers, including arousal of the mind, the heart, and the gut. These signals indicate to me how much energy I have to give to a project or an idea.

Ultimately, choosing to explore these signals and what sparks them has begun to carve out a path of rich, creative living. Sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, a tingling heart, pussy sparks and welling tears all indicate to me that I’m following that path. And the further I walk along that path, the richer life becomes.

Currently, I’m finding myself lit up by dark woodland fantasy, romancing the Other, knits with small stitches and unusual color combinations, and exploring vulnerability. What sparks your fire?

When the River Runs Dry: The Art of Dancing Around Creative Dams

Every time, without fail.

I set myself up perfectly for the next Golden Age of Creation; I carved out the time for writing, I bought myself tons of new supplies to play with, I’m eating this new diet that’s scientifically proven to blast creativity out of my nose holes. The juices are flowing a veritable artsy deluge-splooge! And then…nothing.

When I hit this point, it doesn’t necessarily look like a lack of ideas. There’s plenty of material available, but there’s nothing behind it. The life that pushes it along, weaves it into something meaningful, is absent. To the undiscerning eye, it looks like I’ve lost motivation, but all the prime motivators are there. 

So, rather than smash my head into the dam over and over until either it, or my skull, gives way, I see what I can do to coax the flow out and around its obstacles. It’s a pretty roundabout process, and looks something like this:

EMBRACE THE WHOLENESS OF YOUR BEING (photo source unknown)

Go for a walk somewhere new. Wander through a library and take home the book that is most exciting, interesting or frightening (it doesn’t matter much if I end up reading the whole thing). Devote a day to loving on myself. Doodle aimlessly. Clean out my closet, and definitely fall into those memorabilia rabbit holes. Window-shop my favorite store. Window-shop a store I absolutely would not shop from. Try a new craft. Make love (like, really). Get “lost” in the woods. Cook something without a recipe…

The idea here is to immerse myself in something other than my daily reality. I want to move from my normal waking consciousness into the world of the dreamer, where all of creation stirs between my fingertips. When I take the time to tend to the too-long neglected parts of myself – the parts of me that crave adventure and play – I augment my naturally creative self. Suddenly, making those new connections so necessary for creation is effortless. Hallelujah!

Not long ago, coming into a creative dry patch used to be devastating: famine, failure, and identity crises to boot. How would I ever support myself as an artist with such a fickle muse? Now, I understand she’s not fickle at all. She’s a lot bigger, more complex, and powerful than I had ever previously grasped, and requires my complete care and attention to do what she does best.

When one channel stops flowing, I listen for the water. I heed the call to quench new earth. It’s a guaranteed good time, every time.