From limitation to advantage

Fence. Golden Bay, New Zealand

Fence. Golden Bay, New Zealand


Today’s exercise is adapted from a brilliant little book by Michael Atavar that I picked up in the Tate bookshop one day, called How to be an Artist. His version concerns building your vocabulary as an artist, and I feel that it beautifully extends into living a poetic life of any type.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing … this is your practice

Rather than letting our limitations become obstacles that stop us being artists or living a more poetic life, he wants us to see how these are facets of our real lives, here and now. And these facets of ourselves are exactly where we live and work at our poetic lives.

We can turn our negative thinking about our limitations into more positive advantages, that suggest directions and choices particularly suited to our individual poetic lives.

For example, I sometimes lament that I can’t make up my mind about where to live. This limitation could be seen as chronic indecision, stopping me from finding my forever home. However, if I invert this, into an advantage specific to me, I can see it as my love of imagining other lives for myself in other places. Perhaps I really could write that novel? ... meanwhile, I plan my life in 3 month blocks and enjoy my “mini-life adventures” that take me to live in other countries for periods of time.

Here are Avatar’s instructions for a journaling activity. And what I found when I did it a few years ago. Perhaps you’d like to give it a try?

If you enjoy tasks like this that help you explore more deeply what you’re doing with your poetic life, you’re going to love the original activities I’ve created for my the new course that launches in August!

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Lynne CameronComment