“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgement of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself. And I think the world tends to forget that this is the ultimate significance of the body of work each artist produces. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.” –Stanley Kunitz.
This week, I’ve talked with several women leaders who are in the process of creating powerful new books, programs and other offerings that will serve their communities in beautiful ways. These are creations they’ve been dreaming about for years, that they’re finally ready to bring to life and launch into the world. It’s my honor and delight to partner with them in these adventures, to support them in discerning the shape of what wants to be born, and doing the practical work of making their creations real.
Every creation begins with desire — the desire of that creation to enter our world, and your own desire to give it life, shape and form.
Desire is, in many ways, a mystery. Why this creation and not any one of a dozen others? Why now, not sooner, or later? Desire and creation each have their own timing, their own rhythms of movement and stasis. And they are entwined in the most intimate ways.
When you pay attention to your desires, when you honor them and act on them, they unite you with your soul, and with the soul of the world. They bring pleasure, joy, creativity, play, color, delight into your everyday life. They fill your heart with lusciousness and gratitude, your belly with beauty and contentment, your life with joy and flow.
Desire brings us into this life. Desire keeps us growing, evolving, creating, celebrating. Desire connects us to each other, to all of creation, and to Love itself.
Creations that don’t emerge from desire or from the flow of soul qualities like generosity, curiosity, play, gratitude, love, can be difficult to carry through to completion.
If you want to create A Thing because it will make you rich and famous, land you on Oprah’s stage, or the New York Times Bestseller List; help you “build a global platform;” provide you with credibility, legitimacy, social proof, “brand recognition;” or because everyone else is creating things and you’re afraid of being left behind – your creation will likely not work out the way you expect it to.
This isn’t because your soul dislikes wealth, praise or fame, or judges them as deleterious in some way. Your soul is in relationship with wealth and fame as it is in relationship with all things.
Your soul creates every experience to grow you so you can experience and express your soul’s gifts and qualities more fully. If your evolution calls for you to understand and experience wealth, fame, adulation and more, then these things will come your way as side-effects of your creative process. They cannot be your primary reason for creating, but when they arrive at your doorstep, you can welcome them. You can learn what they have to teach you, and understand them and the role they play in your life and in the world, without identifying with them or becoming attached to the privileges they confer upon you.
Sometimes, through heroic effort or lavish spending, serendipity, the labour of many, the activity of karma, or any of a number of largely invisible reasons, you may achieve the goals that arise from your ambition rather than from your desire. Even though your reasons for making it are friable, your completed creation is met with huzzahs and rich praise, with prizes and recognition. And yet, these leave you feeling empty, disconnected from yourself and your source. The success you moved mountains to achieve leaves you desiccated and numb rather than joyful.
Desire is the voice of your soul. When you ignore it, no pinnacle scaled or race won can assuage the ensuing hollowness, or fill a hole as cavernous as the one left by your soul’s absence.
When you devote yourself to your art as an expression of your gratitude for the gift of life, your creations evolve organically, in their own unique way, and in their own timing. They evolve in response to your creative desire, the desires of your creation’s soul, and the needs of your world. They unite you with your soul. They unite you with all-that-is.
Creation is the heartbeat of the world.
Our creations grow us, as we grow them. Their evolution keeps pace with our own.
Through our art, whatever it may be, we uplift and transform lives, including our own.
We offer and receive inspiration, hope, encouragement, pleasure. We restore a landscape, or re-weave the broken threads of an ecology; build a tool shed, a fire in the hearth, a home for our loves. We plant and nurture a garden, and lavish each plant and shrub with the care and attention it needs to thrive. We hold our beloveds close, and help them become more fully themselves. We offer the labor of our hands to further the causes we love. Our creations bring a little more love, a little more kindness, a little more radiance, tenderness and delight to our world.
These are not minor accomplishments. This is the soul’s artistry at play. This is why we’re here, on this planet, at this time in the history of our species — to be the activity of soul. To be the activity of love on this earth.
The soul does not measure impact by size. The soul does not measure. It swims in a sea of essence — of truth revealed, illuminated, understood; love offered, received, reciprocated; beauty conjured, given shape, movement, visibility, voice; generosity expressed in open-hearted service; joy freely shared.
Every creation is sacred. When you make your art, whatever it may be, you’re bringing into the world something that has never existed before; something that emerges from the relationship between you, your soul, your art, its soul, and your world. You’re taking the raw material of creation and shaping it into something unique — beautiful, useful, inspiring, nourishing, moving, thought-provoking, or enlightening.
Whether your creation is as simple as a meal cooked over an open campfire, or as complex as the United Nations, if it emerges from your true desire, if it serves the growth and evolution of our planet, and the beings with whom we share this world, it is a work of art, and worthy of your skill, heart, and devotion.
Desire goes a long way towards easing the doubts and fears that inevitably accompany your creative journey. Desire puts you in touch with your soul, and through your soul, it connects you with the souls of all who support your evolution and the success of your incarnation.
It’s desire and devotion, not discipline, that brings you to your studio, your workbench, or your desk each day, ready to do the work, curious and eager to meet the challenges and gifts of the adventure.
Even when the going gets tough. Even when you’re convinced that your creation is hopelessly flawed, or worse, irrelevant, trivial, unnecessary. Even then. Especially then.
Desire inevitably brings up our deepest vulnerabilities and fears – that we are not enough; that we don’t deserve to have what we truly desire. That we’ll follow the wrong gods and end up lost in a wilderness we cannot escape. That we will never find what we seek. That, even if our desires are fulfilled, we will still remain empty.
Each of these fears comes from identifying ourselves as consumers rather than as sources of what we desire.
Developing right relationship with Desire is holy work.
When you tie an agenda to the tail of your desire – to get this, or manifest that – you disconnect from your natural relationship with desire.
Desire is not about getting something, it is about becoming the person whose inner ecology includes what you desire.
So, cultivate a relationship with your desire. Get to know it, and act to fulfill it in small, everyday ways.
As you move through your day today, pay attention to what you’re feeling and what you really want. From one moment to the next. Stay receptive and curious. Act on your desires anytime you can, and, if you can’t act on them in that moment, make a promise to yourself to fulfill them as soon as you are able.
Rest when you feel like resting. Run when you feel like running. Make your art when your hands yearn to create. Wander along a riverbank. Lie on the grass and watch the clouds float by. Canoodle with your babies, your beloveds, your muse.
Trust and honour your desires in simple, everyday ways. Then, when your big desires reveal themselves, you’ll know how to dance with them, freely, fiercely, effectively, to create what only you can can bring to life.
If you’re having trouble knowing what you want, because life is busy and you have no time to tune into your own desires (perhaps your gifts are growing stale from languishing in an unfulfilling job, or you can’t seem to shift from client sessions to a creative project that’s calling you, or you spend your days caring for children or other loved ones and are too exhausted, at the end of the day, to pay attention to your own wants), remember that, at all times, your body, your feelings and your senses are eloquent about your desires.
One simple but profound wisdom tool that I’ve developed, to help you get in touch with your desire and the inner guidance to move towards fulfillment, is the Deva card deck, which you’ll find here, on my website. If you’re feeling distant from your desire, want to reconnect with your creative source, and cultivate the gifts and capacities of your soul, visit the Deva Cards page and follow the instructions there.
It can take time, space and patience to hear the voice of your desire, when the noise of the world threatens to drown it out. But you always have access to your body, your feelings and that particular flavour of longing that is the truth of your desire. You always have access to guidance from your own soul, and from the subtle energy realms, to help you shift from feeling confused, lost and overwhelmed to knowing that you are a source of all that you long for.
May you experience the power and beauty of your desire today. May it lead you to the life that is yours to live, with the creations that are yours to give birth to.