I’ve been listening to Sonia Choquette on the Hay House World Summit 2015. Sonia talks about walking the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. Eight hundred kilometers. Five hundred miles. A pilgrimage. She carries grief on the long walk. Deaths of a brother and father, the breaking of a long marriage, the certainty of failure in her life’s work. She walks and forgives, walks and lets go. Finds her way through to Santiago, balance, and home.
I am a pilgrim in my own life. Finding my way. The map is my heart. I walk with my map open, certain and sure of each loving, joyful step. I walk with my map closed, lost and aching, blind and stumbling. Refusing to see and feel. Refusing to take the single action that will save me—open my heart again.
Stubborn has been one of my words, and sometimes it fits me like a tailored suit of clothes. Resistant. Unwilling. Yes, those too. I’ll do it myself. Say this quietly. Pretend to go along with other people’s agendas, and then shift to the side and onto my own path.
Focused is the word I use now, rather than stubborn.
I need to learn things on my own. I can be told something, but I need to test it out, experience it for myself. See and feel all through me, the truth of something.
The first two years of art school, there were lots of rules mixed in with the art-making. Art, to me, is all about no rules. So my stubborn-resistant-unwilling-I’ll-do-it-myself kicked in. I learned the rules, colour theory, composition, the Golden Mean, the history and schools and styles of art. And then promptly forgot them as my hand picked up my pastel, charcoal, brush, pencil. All I could see and feel was the art I was creating in that moment. Feel is the key word. My knowing head, stuffed with rules, was not in the mix.
‘Does this feel right?’ is the question I ask myself as I create. I judge what I am creating by how it feels in me, how my body reacts. This section of the drawing feels too heavy, it keeps pulling my eyes. This drawing feels open and balanced, my eyes move freely as I look. This mark, colour, shape feels wrong, I need to change it.
I do the same with my writing. How does this feel, as I reread what I have written? Does it flow? Do I stumble over a sentence, break the beat and rhythm of the words? Does a phrase startle me, drop me out of the mood that has been created? It’s all feel.
If someone asks me to define what I mean when I say the drawing in front of us feels heavy on one side, I can tell them. I know how to explain by using the rules. But the rules are not my map.
My heart is my pilgrim’s map. It is wide open as I create, draw, write, and learn my way. Perhaps it is my heart that is stubborn, focused, because it knows my right path and refuses to let me stray.
Even when I close my heart and walk blind and unfeeling, my heart keeps me focused on my right direction. I know this because when I open my heart again, I am exactly where I need to be in my life.
The truth is, I never do anything by myself. My heart guides me, all the way. We are pilgrims together, discovering, learning, feeling our way. Heart has the map. I have the hands and head and feet to take us there, whether ‘there’ is a written work, a drawing, a physical place, an emotional understanding.
I wouldn’t miss this journey for anything.
As Sonia says at the close of her story, Buen Camino. Have a good way.
Mentioned in this post:
Hay House World Summit 2015 www.hayhouseworldsummit.com
Sonia Choquette www.soniachoquette.com
Sonia’s story of walking the Camino – Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed, Hay House, 2014