If You Build It, They Might Come

Not to take anything away from Ray Kinsella—what a great movie (and book)! and I’m glad it worked out for him. For Ray, it was true: he built it, and they DID come—and it was his intuitive message, after all, not ours. It doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. But, at the very least, we can say, “If you don’t build it, they’re probably not gonna come.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that Ray Kinsella did not know how it was going to work out for him, either. He just did what he was called to do.

In my work life, I’ve taken up several different, though (to me) related, occupations over the years: teaching, baking, yoga, astrology, graphic design, photography, and a variety of applied arts and artisanal crafts: everything always part-time, a patchwork of pursuits providing structure, yet always leaving space for “my work”—that is, the work I cared most about — the free exploration of the intuitive-creative process, for insight and illumination.

Maybe ten years ago, I said, “You know, I’ve never fully committed to ‘my work,’ though it’s the one thing I can’t and won’t let go of. What if I let everything else go?”

Why hadn’t I committed to it in the past? Well, I had, on a personal level: all that I’ve done forms a path of following that need to explore and express. But I had never committed to it publicly, professionally: I hadn’t made a commitment to open up this creative space and share it with others. Why? Because IT”S TOO HARD TO COMMUNICATE. TOO HARD TO CONVINCE OTHERS OF ITS VALUE. The depth of my knowledge and understanding in this area has been crafted through decades of intense personal work combined with rigorous academic research, and at great cost. It’s a little painful when others shrug me off because they can’t see the sense of my work. I didn’t believe that others would “get it,” or care. I didn’t believe in others recognizing its value. So I didn’t believe that it could sustain me. I didn’t believe it could be financially viable. All that’s still in question.

But I’m just doing it, because it’s what I’m called to do. I believe, rather than know, that providing a social milieu for creative exploration expands and deepens the possibilities of shared understanding; and we have great need of this. But I don’t want to convince you. I don’t have promises to make. I’m here, holding the space. Show up if you feel like it.

But I don’t know if anyone will show up.

If I were to apply the conventional wisdom of advertising, I would promise grandiose outcomes. I would say how it’s all — *[insert superlative]* — And that’s just what I don’t want to do. I’m sick of all those optimistically exaggerated promises that deny the fullness of experience, with its ups and downs and happys and sads and everything in between.

Creativity is not without risk. If you know what’s going to happen, then it’s not creative. To create is to bring something new into existence. To explore and engage with the unknown. It’s a process of discovery. So who can say what will happen?

That space I’m holding open—it’s the space to explore what comes up. What emerges is always different. What’s consistent is the process of staying present and engaged with whatever emerges. It doesn’t sound like much. Simple, yes, and extremely challenging: I believe this practice, over time, is transformative — is essential for health and well-being in a culture obsessed with personal achievement and peak experiences. And frankly, it’s just when it seems like nothing’s happening that the big stuff is happening. But sometimes, nothing’s happening.

I don’t promise enlightenment.
I don’t promise creative genius.
I don’t promise happiness.

I promise to hold space for freedom of symbolic expression, with kindness and compassion.

I offer the space of possibility. I hold that space and I invite you to be present with me.

I built it. Come if you like.