Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shadows and Creativity

I've been remiss for neglecting my blog. Actually, I've been more hectic than usual - attending meetings, writing lesson plans, traveling to other cities and communities - you name it, and somewhere in the midst of my busy schedule, blogging became a burden. Nothing kills creativity like a nagging sense of obligation.

But oddly tonight, I had a few moments to reflect.

Several weeks ago, I attended an educational workshop at Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma, WA. As the meeting ended, I had a few minutes to explore the community and to take a few pictures.

I feel a certain sense of freedom when I can temporarily forget my obligations and simply follow my feet. I parked my rental car in downtown Tacoma and just started walking in the first direction that caught my attention. In time, the scenery revealed itself in a natural, organic sort of way - like when I encountered a totem pole standing near a glass high rise office building. Something about the contrast of ancient and modern structures forced me to reflect upon the role of indigenous traditions within contemporary society.

Eventually, I found myself on a rather pleasant street lined with coffee shops and art galleries. These chairs were arranged outside an antique store.

The City of Tacoma has preserved much of its architectural heritage.

I also happened upon a very unusual place called "The Garages." Essentially, the building functions as a municipal parking garage with a twist: the entire structure is covered both inside and out with intentional graffiti.

It's hard to imagine that people would actually park their cars on these old wooden floors, but indeed they did.

Placards were posted in various locations to provide guidelines for when people could paint the walls and when they could not.

"The Barry" (for those who care). ;)

A standard receptacle for collecting parking fees stands outside the garage.

My mind often works in strange ways. As I explored the various graffiti installations, I got to thinking about what some folks call the "human shadow." In essence, the shadow is comprised of all the parts of our personality that remain hidden from oneself. Often times people keep 'undesireable' parts of themselves hidden in the shadow, either intentionally or otherwise. In any case, the more people repress the shadow, the more it tends to cause problems. A healthy individual finds ways to acknowledge and even honor the shadow, and as Robert Bly once said, "Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us." That's not to say that we should give free rein to every awkward, angry, or unseemly impulse, but rather, we should find ways to respect every part of ourselves. By doing this, we are able to access deep wells of energy and creativity.

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