Tag Archives: creativity

Solitude & Silence: forgotten values?

27 Feb

Modern life seems so focused on work and social activities that we often forget the value of taking time for ourselves. It’s considered weird or even sad if you go out on your own, or rather stay home with a book than go to that fabulous party everyone is talking about. The paradox here, however, is that we are more lonely than ever. Superficial contacts are becoming the norm, and there is hardly time for in-depth conversations. Life is so hasty that we even become strangers to ourselves. We rush through the day, working, cooking, cleaning, doing the groceries, taking care of others, … and then when all the tiresome chores are over, we collapse in front of the TV.
We might have gained material comfort, but we are losing our inner lives, and that is a big loss indeed!

The importance of balancing

Humans are social creatures, and there is nothing wrong with that. Most of us feel great when we have our friends around us, with who we can share our life’s tribulations, but also our joy and happiness.
It’s important that we see ourselves as a friend too though, and we need to nourish that friendship. We need to find a balance between spending time with others, and spending time with ourselves. If we don’t nourish our inner lives, we won’t be able to nourish the life of others.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes in her book “Women who run with the Wolves” very beautifully about this issue:
A wise woman keeps her psychic environ uncluttered. She accomplishes such by keeping a clear head, keeping a clear place for her work, working at completing her ideas and projects.
For many women, this task requires that they clear a time each day for contemplation, for a space to live in that is clearly their own with paper, pens, paints, tools, conversations, time, freedoms that are for this work only. For many, psychoanalysis, contemplation, mediation, the taking of solitude, and other experiences of descent and transformation provide this special time and place for the work. Each woman has her own preferences, her own way.(…)
To sweep the premises means not only to begin to value the nonsuperficial life but to care for its orderliness. Sometimes women become confused about soulful work, and neglect its architecture till it is taken back by the forest. Gradually the structures of the psyche are overgrown until they finally are but a hidden archeologic ruin in the psyche’s unconscious. A cyclical and critical sweeping will prevent this from occurring. When women have cleared space, the wild nature will better thrive.(1)
An excuse I often use myself too is that I don’t have time for all this. This is simply not true. A better and more honest way to put it would be that we are not in the mood to make time for it, because it’s not very high on our list of priorities. However, the importance of meditation, prayer, journaling, giving attention to our inner life, can hardly be overlooked. If we don’t make time for it, our inner life will be overgrown like a garden that isn’t kept, and we will forget about who we really are. Our inner life is just as important as the steps we take in the outer world, maybe even more important. Our actions start from how we feel inside, and we can only take the right kind of actions if we are in touch with what we really need in life.

The benefits of silence

Silence and solitude go together. When we are alone, we don’t speak. Our mind is rather directed towards deeper issues we need to deal with.
Nowadays we talk a lot, without really saying something. People who are talkative are by far preferred over people who are silent. Of course talking is a great way to strengthen the bonds with others, but it can also be used as a dangerous weapon, to hurt people and to gossip behind their backs.

“If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything” seems a very positive rule to me, although a lot of people have forgotten the value of not talking bad about others. All too often, they see it as a mean of conversation, to have something to talk about, and don’t realise the damage they are doing. If you make friends by talking bad about others, what kind of friends are they in the first place?
My advice is: always speak about someone as if he/she were there too.

Silence was considered a virtue by all the great men and women from the past. Gandhi said: In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
In Islam, silence is considered even more than gold. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said: Salat (prayer) is the main pillar of Islam, however remaining silent is better.
Sadaqa (charity) will extinguish the anger of Allah, however remaining silent is better.
Sawm (fasting) is a shield against the fire of hell, however remaining silent is better.
Jihad (fighting against temptation&defending Islam) occupies a high position in the deen of Allah, however remaining silent is better.
Excessive talking can be harmful towards someone’s soul, especially if one uses his tongue to lie, hurt others, and gossip. Only constructive talk is allowed in Islam, where one advises the other to do good, where one talks kindly to the other, where one remembers God with his tongue.

To end, I want to stress that silence can also be harmful, when it’s used in the face of injustice. We must not remain silent when we see something bad happening, but speak up for ourselves and others. Everything can be used in a good and bad way, so let’s make sure we use silence only in a positive way!

(1) C.P.ESTES, Women Who Run With The Wolves, 2008, Rider, p.92-93

Writing Blues!

12 Feb

I’m currently (trying) to write a short story for a writing competition. It’s been a while since I last wrote a story, and I feel like inspiration is lacking. This leaves me wondering: where does creativity and inspiration come from? Why do some writers have the story clear in their head, right from the start, while others have to scratch their heads and invent as they go along? I seem to definitely belong to the second type, and it frustrates me. Of course, no good work is easy, and I need to write more. I know that. But it’s just so sad that in my childhood I could come up with a whole storyline in five minutes, and really enjoy writing, while now it’s bringing me more stress and worries than anything else!
I think I just need to relax, and practice. As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t build in one day”!  But am not bloody trying to build Rome, I just want to come up with a good short story!

I heard that Hilary Duff published a book called “Elixir”, together with a co-writer who’s not even mentioned on the cover, Elise Allen. Now me thinks that Elise Allen did most of the work, and Hilary is just running off with all the credits and praise. I mean, if Hilary has been “playing around with the idea for a while”, what does she need a co-writer for?
Also, she was a guest on a Flemish TV-show called “De Laatste Show”, and the TV host told her happily : “In the book you mentioned exactly one Belgian, do you know which one?”
Hilary, a bit confused “Did I mention that?”
The host :”yeah, you mentioned him. On page 124.”
Hilary: ” euhm”
Host: “It’s a painter.”
Hilary: “He’s a painter?”
Host: Peter Paul Rubens!” (Famous painter, hello!)
I rest my case.
For the ones interested, here is the interview I’m on about:

I browsed through some pages of the book over the internet, and I didn’t like it. It seemed like a very shallow story, along the lines of Twilight, and just full of clichés. I’m romantic, but writing about immortal soul mates is just a bit (a lot) over the top for me. Yikes, It rather gives me stomach ache!
Anyway, some readers seem to like it, so who am I to judge?
I just have a feeling that the quality of published literature is really going dooooown.
Ok, second try at an objective ending: Here is the summary, hope you enjoy!

Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.
When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.