Just returned home from 2+ weeks at Penland in Julie Leonard's box making class (assisted by the talented Jessica White). Hard to capture here what this experience has done for or means to me. Actually, I'm still trying to figure it out. What I do know is that under Julie's patient, expert, kind hand we all flourished in different ways. I went expecting to learn something about box making and have left with far more.
The 8-hour drive home was crucial. I don't do long drives well, but I really needed (still need) the transition time to resurface...to come in for a landing. To reconnect with the people and things outside of that special bubble I was inhabiting in the Smoky Mountains and inside of myself.
I just re-read Julia Cameron's piece in Walking in this World on reentry after a big creative project. Turns out I'm not crazy...that these feelings are perhaps universal and predictable:
Our creative size has a tidal aspect -- we ebb and we flow. Or, if you like, we expand and contract, altering sizes and shapes like one of those luminous mysteries of the sea, the jellyfish, which closely resembles a parachute. When we are at the height of a creative flight and trying to land, we too resemble a beautiful, full-bellied parachute trying to touch earth. Lovely? Yes. But safe? Not necessarily. Creative post partum can be unexpected and deep.
Finishing a long project is also a little like driving cross-country -- when you get home, you may need to hide out and sleep for a couple of days before seeing your friends -- otherwise, reentry can be bumpy. Reentry is a volatile process. We become seasoned only after time, learning to send up flares to show our progress: I am still in the chute and hope to emerge next week.
My Penland instructor, Julie, spoke of colleagues and students who simply don't finish a project because they can't face the landing when all is said and one. Hiding out feels about right for now. That, and reminding myself that the ground does exist, as I take steps to find my feet again back home.