The avoidance of the anxiety of solitude by constant, agitated diversion is what Kierkegaard, in a nice simile, likened to the settlers in the early days of America who used to beat on pots and pans at night to keep the wolves away.
-Rollo May, The Courage to Create
I have always found it to be a fantastic irony that wolves are feared as devourers. It’s kind of a sexy thought, in a Red Riding Hood kind of way, (if you’re into pulling that fairy tale apart a thousand ways, which I very much was in college). But at the core of anxiety around the idea of “wolves coming out of the walls”, “wolves at the door”, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, is perhaps fear of our own wild nature, and perhaps, too, fear of our own wild creativity. It’s a feminine function, creativity. As we’re shown day in and out that women, their bodies, and what they represent are something to be feared rather than revered, it’s no surprise that the creative function in anyone would be subject to being hastily run away from.
I find the subject of fear to be one that will never be fully fleshed and hung up between two sturdy poles. Though it can be useful as a warning at times, fear inserted into the creative process usually leads to seizing up. Part of it might be faced while another sly bit of it slinks off into the shadows, like snatches of unremembered nightmare, later to return.
When the world around us becomes quiet enough that we can *actually hear*, what can come up are the visions which lead us to action. Hallelujah! Just enough peace to get a great idea, within the clarity of solitude. In my ever-constant 4-process mind, the next natural step is to begin taking action. After that comes dreaded surrender, and that’s where things start to get tricky. This quagmire is where the shadows lurk and doubts arise, and the so called wolves are lying in wait, aimed fang-first at the femoral artery.
For every process, there’s a booby-trap ready to take you down, and your beautiful expression-in-wait with it. At this very point, folks turn back for the safety of banging the pots and pans. Because if we can just create enough noise, we’ll forget about that old idea-which-probably-wouldn’t-have-worked-anyway. The trouble with this is that it leaves us restless and unsatisfied. I struggle with unfinished business. I believe it lingers inside of us until we get it out, especially creative notions (and unresolved conflicts).
If we can hang in there with the anxiety, the levee will break. If we can see the doubts and fears through, and face them courageously, listen to what they have to say, dismiss them when it’s time, surrender to the flow of what is wanting to be born, we can get through the laborious release and with hope, celebrate the wisdom that comes from seeing any worthwhile thing through.