If you could sum up your current creative process in one sentence what would it be?
I listen deeply to that place that I call my “wild inside,” dance with the mystery I find there, follow my inner leadings, and try to manifest what calls to me in my art and my life.
How is your creative process presently supporting you to grow, change and transform?
In her book, Centering, the potter M.C. Richards wrote, “All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.” When I was younger, I loved this quote, but it was an idea, rather than something I knew how to live. Back then, the creative process was something outside of me. I am now 73 years old and I no longer see it that way.
All these years of staring at a blank sheet of paper and asking what colors and images might want to appear, being with my piano in the silence and waiting for what sounds might want to be heard, and sitting at my computer, asking what words want to fall on the page, have been a practice of surrendering to something larger than my little ego. When we practice in this way over a lifetime, we are training ourselves to listen and be moved by something deep inside of us. This kind of inquiry has become the way I live my life.
Over the last seven years, I have been focused on writing. I wanted to gather the harvest of what I’ve learned about my creative essence from the time I was a tiny child until now. Though I didn’t know it was a book when I started, I soon realized that it was and Finding the Wild Inside was born. It is the story of how my attention to my inner world, my explorations in music and the arts, my curiosity about my dreams, and my commitment to follow my intuition has made M.C. Richard’s quote a true statement about my life.
When we witness our own unique creative responses, we discover who we are from the inside out. From there, it is just a small step to knowing that our creative essence is just a tiny piece of the much larger creative process that has manifested this wild, wonderful universe of which we are a part. A deep sense of belonging enfolds us when we embrace this big picture, and it is a natural to ask the question, “How can I give back?” At least, that is how it has happened for me. That is a question I am still asking. Sending my book out into the world is one answer.
What are the main themes you are exploring in your creative process at the moment?
I live in the forest in Northern California. Surrounded by wild nature, I am continually reminded of the circle of life. Something new is always being born and something old everywhere passing away. I spent the last many years caring for my elderly parents and immersing myself in their journey at the far end of life. I was finishing my book as my mother’s life was ending. She lived to be almost 102 years old! The Divine Feminine in her three phases as Maiden, Mother and Crone came forward in my consciousness at that time.
My writing led me to honor the Maiden and Mother, in ways I didn’t know to honor them when I was living them. The Crone was with me as I watched my parents decline, as she is the one who is as invested in the unravelling of life as she is in weaving life together. In our culture, we yearn for her wisdom, but we would rather forget, that to a great extent, that wisdom comes in being able to hold life’s endings as well as life’s beginnings.
In this spirit, I’ve recently found a whole new energy coming into my creative process. I find myself taking some of my art apart, and recycling materials into new pieces. Outside, I’ve been creating small collages of natural materials, putting something that is alive and something that is no longer living in each piece. I’m photographing old people, falling leaves, and wilted flowers. I am having ritual bonfires to burn some of my writing and art work. I never expected to do this but it feels exactly right. The completion of my book brought my life into focus and gave me new perspective on many of my life experiences. Perhaps it’s time now to let go of some old images, and old stories.
What are you currently discovering inside of your creative process that might serve as an inspiration for other people’s creativity?
I didn’t expect to find the cumulative effect of all my years of creating to be something so palpable, so real, so ultimately supportive. I was always helped in the moment by my creative expressions, thankful and joyful to have that creative spark with me to use whenever I wanted or needed it. But I didn’t realize that I was building something that would carry me into the later phase of my life with so much substance and so much grace.
I’m curious how my creative self will accompany me as I move deeper into old age. I’m sure I’ll surprise myself once again, because I know now, that when we make something, we are creating more than we know we are creating. So, to all those just starting out, keep at it, keep listening inside and expressing yourself. Someday, when you look back over your life, you will be astonished!
How can we learn more about your creative work in process?
Website: www.marilynhagar.com supports book, my expressive arts therapy practice, and my creative retreat in Mendocino, CA. My blog where I post about themes related to my book is located here too.
About the Author:
Marilyn Hagar is a registered expressive arts therapist who owns and operates For the Joy of It!, a creative retreat in Mendocino, California. She has been in private practice and led groups and workshops at her forest retreat for more than forty years, dedicating her life to the belief that we are all creative and that expressing ourselves through the arts puts us in touch with our own wild essence. Marilyn has published articles about her creative life and her adventures in the great outdoors. She has also exhibited her artwork and her art quilts, inspired by inner-life imagery and her dream world. She has three wonderful sons and four precious grandsons. Her website is www.marilynhagar.com