Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Creative Depth Charges

Here is something from Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter, January 30, 2008. I am by nature a skeptic about such things, but Mr. Brezsny's zany-to-the-point-of-revelation take on astrology and life itself always tickles and enlightens me some. I thought I'd share these because I think they are creative and depth enhancing exercises that might even be used in a coaching session or in self-coaching to help shift perspective, and do it with a little humor, fun and "game".

by Rob Brezsny

Part One: Experiments and exercises in becoming a rebelliously kind, affably unpredictable, insanely poised Master of Supernal Mischief.

1. "I have not used my darkness well," mourns poet Stanley Moss in his book Asleep in the Garden. He's right about that. His forays into the realm of shadows rarely lead to redemption. "One fine day/ I shall fall down ... in a prison of anger," he moans in one poem. "In this country I planted not one seed," he announces elsewhere. Other samples: "vomit is the speech of the soul"; "We die misinformed"; "How goes a life? Something like the ocean/ building dead coral." But enough. Let's not indulge Moss in his profligacy. Instead, we'll appoint him to be your anti-role model: an example of what you don't want to become. May he inspire you to regard your sorrows and failures as sources of disguised treasure; as raw materials that will fuel future breakthroughs. Now write a poem or story in which you use your darkness well.

2. Acquire a hand puppet, preferably a funky old-fashioned one from a thrift store, but any one will do. Give the puppet a name and wear it on your hand wherever you go for several days. In a voice different from your normal one, make this ally speak the "shadow truths" of every situation you encounter: the dicey subtexts everyone is shy about acknowledging, the layers of truth that lie beneath the surface, the agreed-upon illusions that cloud everyone's perceptual abilities.

3. All of us are eminently fallible nobodies. We're crammed with delusions and base emotions. We give ourselves more slack than we give anyone else, and we're brilliant at justifying our irrational biases with seemingly logical explanations. Yet it's equally true that every one of us is a magnificently enigmatic creation unlike any other in the history of the world. We're stars with vast potential, gods and goddesses in the making. Dramatize this paradox. Tomorrow, buy and wear ugly, threadbare clothes from the same thrift store where you got your hand puppet. Eat the cheapest junk food possible and do the most menial tasks you can find. The next day, attire yourself in your best clothes, wear a crown or diadem, and treat yourself to an expensive gourmet meal. Enjoy a massage, a pedicure, and other luxuries that require people to wait on you. On the third day, switch back and forth between the previous two days' modes every couple of hours. As you do, cultivate a passionate indifference to the question of whether you are ultimately an unimportant nobody or a captivating hero.

4. Is it possible that in trying to repress some of the things about yourself that you don't like, you have also disowned potentially strong and beautiful aspects of yourself? What are they?

5. Inventor Thomas Edison came up with a lot of ideas that went nowhere. While trying to develop the perfect battery, his unsuccessful experiments were comically legion. "I have not failed," he mused. "I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." There are other ways in which he didn't match the profile we usually associate with genius. He rarely had a dramatic breakthrough out of the blue, for instance. Most often, he tinkered and fussed until he discovered some new useful thing. Of his 1,093 patents, some were inventions he purposefully set about to create, but most he simply stumbled upon. Describe an area of your life where you've discovered 10,000 ways that don't work.

6. Chantepleure is a word that means "to sing and weep simultaneously." Think of a memory that moves you to do just that.

7. For the 2001 Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, artist David Best constructed the "Mausoleum: Temple of Tears." Made from wooden pieces of dinosaur puzzles, this pagoda-like sanctuary took him weeks to perfect. Pilgrims who visited it were encouraged to write prayers on the walls, mourning dead loved ones and exorcising adversaries who had passed over. At the end of the festival, Best hosted a mass ritual of grief and burned his masterpiece to ash. Draw inspiration from Best's project. Create a talisman or ritual tool out of whimsical junk, use it a while to catalyze a catharsis, then destroy it or throw it away.

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