Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
David Wagoner, copyright 1976
Path through the trees Patricia Shea
To me, this poem is about artistic process, whether writing, acting, sculpting, or painting. To get in touch with our deep artist’s voice, we must stand still and open ourselves to receive. “Stand still…The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.” As terrifying as it may seem, we must be willing to allow ourselves to lose control and get out of the way. The creative process is mysterious, and, if we’re not careful our grown-up inhibitions will block our genius. Pablo Picasso said, “When I was a child, I could paint like a master, and I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to paint like a child.”
Before you begin your work, create a sacred space around you. Whether it’s throwing salt over your shoulder, as Shakespeare did, or praying to Homer, as Stephen Pressfield does (see
), acknowledge, consciously, that you are beginning the task. In other words, ask permission to know and be known. By our words; by our characters; by our story. And then let the forest - the work - find us.
Exercise. Sit still, at your computer, or with your notebook open in front of you. Complete your ritual: ring the bell, light the candle, toss salt over your shoulder, put your Red Sox hat on your head. Shift into a state of hyper-awareness. Ask for the visitation of the powerful stranger. Empty your mind. Let the words find you.
And, check out
It should get your blood boiling!