"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Protecting Artistic Energy

Well, let’s get back to art and creativity since that’s one arena where - believe it or not – I think I have some inkling of control. Or is it the illusion of control? No matter. Let’s keep going.

Last week my Mastery Program students (2010) met for their second session. One topic of discussion was how to share what they are learning. Some folks want to post to a blog and others just want to know how to share what they are accomplishing with artist friends or family. Every group I set wants to establish a presence on line where they can share images of their work as it develops. Each group is very surprised when I say NO.

Isn’t it something what we do to ourselves if left to our own mental devices? I never used to mind the sharing of unfolding work – after all – isn’t that the sign of a group committed to each other and the assignments they have been given?

Yikes. The reality of this sort of sharing is a gradual closing off, shutting down, a big whomp to the tenderly emerging self esteem of all participants considered.

That was several years ago, but now not sharing is a rule veiled as a polite request. Please do not share your work with others while you are still working on it.

We’re not talking about my assignments or class stuff that I want to protect. That’s another story and perhaps one worth exploring another time. How much should a participant enrolled in an expensive and time consuming program share with others? When does it become a vicarious free class for the person who is asking and when is it sweet interest borne by desire for the enrollee to succeed?

But this is different. This is about honoring and protecting the Artistic Self. I request not sharing now because I know sharing not only runs the risk of intimidating shyer students so that they can no longer engage and make…but more importantly, sharing saps the energy out of what they do – no matte what the confidence level.

Spiritual masters had the right idea when they cautioned against what I describe as the blurt – the uncontained, gushing verbal mode that wants everyone to know what’s going on. Find yourself in the middle of a blurt and you’ll find that the sharing diminishes the power of your creative act – power which isn’t easily restored.

Do you feel some responsibility to share what’s happening in your creative life? The events behind your closed studio doors? Think twice and conserve that store of powerful resource. No one should demand to know what’s going on with you. Let them wait. Savor your alone time with your art and your process. Report back when you feel good and ready.


  1. I can totally relate to this! I have no friends, who I see on a regular basis, who share a similar creative life. Often I feel I have to tell those who I see regularly, what I have be doing creatively, so they don't think I spend all my 'spare' time watching tv. So I share what I have been doing creatively, but always I feel it is more difficult to continue with my textile work. It is a very difficult and sometime solitary path to follow!

  2. The artistic self is precious and, although not too fragile, needs protection and nurturing. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. blurting can definitely lead to the need for atonement tis true! we have many literary examples of that. I find if I describe the process too much - particularly the inner process - it takes away the mystery. and I'm all for a little mystery hence giving the viewer the responsibility.
    The other hazard is that then the person describes what they're doing and you have to listen to that! Elizabeth