Mondays, the GGs (my Girl Group)–a Sisterhood of Creative Explorers–gather. We are working through Walking Into the World by Julia Cameron. It is a follow-up to The Artist's Way, her twelve-step guide to creative living. One component of Cameron's creativity recovery program is the Weekly Walk. "Most of us spend life on the run, too busy and too hurried to walk anywhere," Cameron writes, maintaining the solution to many of our problems will arise if we make time to walk. "Native Americans pursue vision quests, Aborigines do walkabout. Both of these cultures know walking clears the head." And so, for the duration of the course, she asks us to commit to weekly 20-minute walks. "You will find these walks focus your thinking and instigate your breakthroughs," she concludes.
According to her instructions we are to put on comfy clothes and shoes and just go out walking-"go far enough and long enough that you feel both your body and your mind "unkink." Jakarta is many things, but it is not walker-friendly. The streets are busy, loud, cloudy with fumes, often rutted and potholed. The sidewalks-where there are sidewalks- are riddled with holes and loose stones and catawampus paving, or are crowded with parked motorcycles and food carts. No matter how many kilometers I walked, my mind and body would never "unkink." And so, I have taken Cameron's proclamation: "Where you walk matters less than that you walk," as permission to take my weekly walks on my backyard treadmill.
Giving due credit, the image "backyard" conjures is far from the truth. The area beyond my French doors is better described as oasis or resort-a delightful place to "unkink" even without the walk.
Oasis or not, it takes me longer than the proscribed 20-minutes to warm up my creative world. First I have to examining my garden, looking for weeks that need pulling, bushes that need pruning, twisted flags, untidy vines (Oasis are the bottle-blondes of gardens). The twisted flags can eat up 10 minutes easily as I imagine myself untangling-untangling-untangling them. I follow the yard survey with a run through of everything I could be doing if I were not walking on the treadmill and chase that with everything I plan to do when I finish. Eventually, after breaking the cycle with a 3-5 minute run which leaves me nauseous and too oxygen deprived to think, I drift into that mindless, floating place from wince solutions come.
I was there, totally there, last night -completely unkinked and free, drifting, bouncing, floating from thought to thought to...the solution. I had walked into the World, Julia's World, so lost in my alpha that I forgot where I was-and stepped right off the edge.
Fortunately, the treadmill backs into the corner of the patio and the walls stopped my fall.
Julia Cameron should paste a warning label on the next edition: Creative Recovery Can Be Dangerous.