The Quickening
By Sky Brooks, 5/8/17

Sky Brooks is a graduate of The 3 Doors Academy and a professional artist who makes sculptures of paper-mache. In “The Quickening,” Sky invites us into her thoughts one morning as beauty awakens her artistic expression. This is the first article of a new series called Creative Musings, where 3 Doors Practitioners reflect on their creative process.

A goldfinch has just arrived on the tree outside. She’s tiny but vibrates with life and purpose and song.   I see her up there as I’m eating my breakfast not reading the New York Times, hoping to begin my day without words, opinions and news that makes my heart sink.  The world stops and opens in that moment of Look! and she’s impossible not to watch.  She flies away though, quick as a wink and that’s the last I see of her.  A moment of beauty, an Oh!, a momentary cessation of thought.  Her colorful presence and liveliness awakens me out of an inner sleepiness and arouses in me juice and vitality, providing a super-natural cup of coffee.   This simple little yellow bird, calling from her perch on the tree, offers inspiration for the day.  Wake up! she says, there’s lots to do!!

And what is it exactly that she inspires?  What is it that makes me feel perky, energetic and ready to get to work?   I feel a quickening in my body in response to beauty, a physical reanimation of my interior and the feeling, a sense, that something is just begging to be expressed.  What a mysterious force it is that moves me to make something.  It is a call, like a phone ringing that must be answered.  The call is a sacred one.  If it is ignored, not answered, I risk losing a chance to connect with a gift of immense value, that dive deep into the interior of my being where there are no opinions, words or bad news.  I can feel the connection, an electrical kind of impetus moving in me, a physical surge, a longing, a desire, a compelling urge to create.  And only by trusting and following that urge will I find that sense of completeness that comes from having heard and heeded the call.

This electricity of inspiration is what moves me, what excites and energizes me.  It gets me to the studio and there’s nothing to compare to the excitement and creative fertility of a 24/7 project that consumes and feeds me at the same time.  What fills me with pleasure and the fresh air of delight is the act of creativity itself.  It allows me to access that place where I feel potent, rich and full of movement.  Creating a figure out of clay or applying paper mache to see a head emerge or dipping a brush into color and letting my hand, not my mind, make the moves is when I feel most confident, when I know I know what I’m doing….not necessarily following an idea or even an image, just trusting the knowing of what to do next.  Whether it is creating or destroying, and both happen, I’ve learned to trust the unfolding, the process, the emergence of color, form and shape.  To give my mind the message to go away and rest, dissolve, disappear for a while while my hands and inner guide lead the way is most precious time.  It is not Me, that Me who thinks and decides and judges, but an energy native to me, a true knowing that comes from deep within and arises from as much space and silence that I can allow, wait for, supplicate.  The quiet voice that has, over the course of a lifetime, been hushed or strangled or silenced in innumerable ways, is there deep inside waiting to be heard and trusted.  And has always been there.  It was a whisper at first, timid, not sure of my loyalty.  And I was timid as well, not daring to let go of the mind I assumed was all there was to me.  But when leaving the judgmental, thinking, critical, dualistic mind behind; the this is ugly, hers is more beautiful, I can’t do this, I don’t know how, I’m not creative, I’m scared, what about all those high powered artists in the galleries, what are my little creations next to theirs??? I guess I’m not really meant to do this.  When I say to those loud, rude and opinionated, interfering and meddling voices:  QUIET!!! I can’t hear! then I’ve begun.

This is what I have learned.  This is what I aspire to do in and through my work…to connect with that deep knowing and awareness within that can be so obscured by the thinking, critical mind and create something that reflects the beauty and heart of what I feel and see.   To trust and honor innate knowing is to give the gift of freedom to myself.  To create, to live fully without judgment or shame is a birthright.  So much of what we struggle with is due to old endlessly told stories that have been immortalized and frozen in some strange mental rut of familiarity, seemingly true.   They have become the ignorant wardens of self-imprisonment.  These personal family gems have been honed to perfection and yet are not the jewels you want in your crown. What is true is what emerges into light from that quiet pool of clear bright water that lies deep within and is always available when given some peace and quiet.  Literally.  Listen. Be still.  The clarity and breadth and bounty of a still, quiet, receptive mind is boundless.

The recognition and knowledge of my purpose in life I have longed for all my life, and while I was looking for it outside in the world, I did not see or understand that it was right within me to be discovered, unearthed, tapped, a treasure in the wilderness of my being that can gush out when given the space and opportunity.   While I make may not be a big splash in the scheme of things, what is important now is that I heed the call.

Nature and her inhabitants have always been my muses, my refuge and my inspiration.   Whether it be a tree, a tiger, or a bird song, I find both solace and inspiration in their existence.  I see a giant cottonwood alone in a field, its arms wide to the sky, leaves dancing in the light or a slinky bobcat crossing my street midday or a hawk circling above me.  Energetic lightbulbs of joy, appreciation and love are turned on.  And these three – appreciation, gratitude and love – are the engines, the life blood surging through any creative act.