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Cultural Artisanship as Life Path

Cultural Artisanship as Life Path

A prayer flag

Wherever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

From Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

“The world offers itself to your imagination”,  as the above poem states, and at this time, we, as members of the world, are beholden to offer our imagination back to the world. Now, more than at any time in human history, the world is in need of our creative energy, love, and intention in order to bring into balance the forces that have brought us to the age of climate crisis, endless war, economic stratification, and cultural numbing.

“…In our society, imagination has become an endangered human capacity. Truly visionary creativity is one of the most suppressed human qualities in contemporary politics, education, religion, and business. This is deplorable and ruinous because deep creativity serves life, diversity, and freedom, and foils paralysis, sameness, and slavery. With their imaginations animated and thriving, people experience ample joy in their lives and instinctively protect and promote the diverse flourishing of the more than human world.”

— Bill Plotkin, Author,
Nature and the Human Soul and Soulcraft

In other words, creativity is not just about personal growth. It is about the survival and sustainability of our world.

Indeed, it may be that the breakdown of the institutions and imbalance in our world is forcing us out of our collective mindsets of acceptance and powerlessness into a realization of the need for radical change. The grief and anger of witnessing an imperiled world opens our eyes to our interconnections, and to our creative capacities to respond and act on behalf of a just and sustainable world. The Earth is in a state of constant response and creation. We, as a part of Earth, have that same capacity for response and creativity.

As Cultural Artisans, we are developing skills that will serve the world in a number of ways. The creative process teaches us skill, attitudes, and principles that will serve us well in our quest to heal our world. A Cultural Artisan is a witness, a shaman, a teacher, a mirror, a trickster, a fool, a lover, a seer, and a healer. The capacity for exploration, for mindfulness, for trust in the process, for play, for not-knowing, for boldness of expression- are all needed for effective work in the world.

Perhaps most of all, the Cultural Artisan understands the power of paradox as a guiding force in understanding the world.  We can learn from the wisdom of our ancestors, for the benefit of future beings, even as we focus on the present moment with mindful attention.  We can deepen and clarify our intention, at the same time remaining open to new ideas.  We can find and feed our passion, even as we work to ground ourselves. We are willing to grieve in witness to the pain of our world, as we grow our capacity for joy and connection.  Lastly, we are capable of boldly owning and using our gifts, while acknowledging that these gifts are not actually ours, but born of our connection to the All.