Today was Artist Date day, as set out by the book that I’m working through, The Artist’s Way. After a two week break over Christmas, I was excited to get back to this weekly practice. In keeping with my desire to surrender to life, I decided to go where I felt drawn this afternoon. And I felt drawn to walk along the river, specifically Shoal Creek.
I have not seen the river since last weekend’s massive flood. I was surprised to find low water bridge still closed, due to two uprooted trees caught on the structure. Everywhere I looked, there were signs of how powerful the river is when it overflows its banks.
Trees were down along the river. Picnic tables were clogged with debris, and empty concrete pads were stark reminders that tables had been swept away, in spite of being bolted down. Empty freshwater mussel shells covered the ground near the walking trail, along with river rocks deposited by the tumbling waters.
The air was chilly and the sunshine welcome as I slowly strolled along the river, thinking. The river did not intend destruction as it overflowed its banks. It was simply being what it was. The overflow happened because the river became full, filled beyond what it could contain. As I studied the churning water, still at an elevated level, I thought about how that happens to us too. We get full…of joy, of love, of anger, of fear…until we can’t contain it anymore either, and it overflows, spilling out. Sometimes the force of our emotions overtakes everyone around us. It reminded me that what’s in our heart is revealed and comes tumbling out when we are flooded with challenges. I want to overflow with peace, love and joy and leave evidence of these in my wake.
My inner creative child asserted herself. Enough with the reflections. When I left the house, I grabbed a canvas tote to serve as a makeshift possible bag. As a child, I loved to walk along the creek in Noel and pick up treasures…interesting rocks, pretty leaves, sturdy sticks. Back then I had boxes of nature collections. I thought it would be fun to scavenge items today as I walked Shoal Creek. I looked past the devastation and began to notice the beauty around me. There was a tree wearing a woven garland. And little pools of water appeared in unexpected places.
With the delight of a child, I picked up several rocks, a shell, and a piece of bark with grayish green lichen growing on it. Just as I was about to start the return trek to the car, I spied something interesting down near the river, at the base of a tree. The adult in me was willing to leave it there. The artistic child wanted it!
Carefully I made my way down to the tree and inspected my find before I picked it up. Made of metal, the object was heavy and slightly rusty. I didn’t know what it was, but my imagination immediately raced with what I could do with this treasure.
Back home I happily cleaned up my little collection. The piece of metal reminds me of a sign, a marker. I wrote 2016 on it with a white sharpie. Interestingly, the next chapter in The Artist’s Way, which teaches about having compassion for my inner child, suggests selecting a totem to place in my creative space. A totem is an object, imbued with spiritual meaning…an emblem or symbol that serves as a reminder. I have my totem, my reminder, of all the promises 2016 holds. The river gave it to me.