Cultural Artisanship in a Changing World

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -- 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things. 

                                    Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

“The world offers itself to your imagination”, as the above poem states, and at this time, we, as members of the world, are beholden to offer our imagination back to the world. Now, more than at any time in human history, the world is in need of our creative energy, love, and intention in order to bring into balance the forces that have brought us to the age of climate crisis, endless war, economic stratification, and cultural numbing.

In other words, creativity is not just about personal growth. It is about the survival and sustainability of our world.

Indeed, it may be that the breakdown of the institutions and imbalance in our world is forcing us out of our collective mindsets of acceptance and powerlessness into a realization of the need for radical change. The grief and anger of witnessing an unjust and imperiled world opens our eyes to our interconnections, and to our creative capacities to respond and act on behalf of a just and sustainable world. The Earth is in a state of constant response and creation. We, as a part of Earth, have that same capacity for response and creativity.

The creative process teaches us skill, attitudes, and principles that will serve us well in our quest to heal our world. A Cultural Artisan is a witness, a shaman, a teacher, a mirror, a trickster, a fool, a lover, a seer, a change-maker, and a healer. The capacity for exploration; for mindfulness; for trust in the process; for play; for not-knowing; for humility; for boldness of expression- all are needed for effective work in the world.

Perhaps most of all, the Cultural Artisan understands the power of paradox as a guiding force in understanding the world.  We can learn from the wisdom of our ancestors, for the benefit of future beings, even as we focus on the present moment with mindful attention.  We can deepen and clarify our intention, at the same time remaining open to new ideas.  We can find and feed our passion, even as we work to ground ourselves. We are willing to grieve in witness to the pain of our world, as we grow our capacity for joy and connection.  Lastly, we are capable of boldly owning and using our gifts, while acknowledging that these gifts are not actually ours, but born of our belonging to the All.  Through embracing this stance, we grow our capacity to act on behalf of a world in need of healing, justice, and collective liberation. May we offer ourselves to the world’s imagination for that purpose with joy, clarity, and deep understanding of our mutual belonging.

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