One Unholy Smear

Story Conference blog post attempt #2:

One of my favorite speakers from Story was Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  She’s a farmer’s wife, and was quick to tell us that she didn’t have any special insight into being a creative.  But after that, she wove a beautiful tale of vision, poetry, scars and beauty, slowing down and speaking a “language of amazement” to a culture of despair.

And she said something right at the beginning: “Creativity is being comfortable with not knowing what comes next.”

I’ve been so concerned with what to do next.  Practical questions: Grad school?  Job?  Where do I want to live?  Existential questions of who am I, and what do I want to become?  What do I want to be known for?  And how quickly and efficiently can I answer all of these questions?  It’s my crisis of being, and I’ve been frantic to try to figure it out.  It’s what this whole blog is about, for goodness sakes!

But through the course of her talk, she reminded us to be comfortable where we are, to focus on the small, overlooked moments.  And the way she cast this vision lulled me into a state of peaceful quietness, yet with an underlying thrum of excitement.

“Life is not an emergency,” she said.  “We take all the moments and blur them into one unholy smear.”

And I remembered my time in Oregon, in a cabin out of the mainstream and away from all things hectic.  Our lives have this crazy way of filling up with noise–TV season premieres, Twitter updates, text messages–that it’s so easy to forget to just sit still every once in a while.  To enjoy this gift of today.

And maybe it’s in this quiet enjoyment of the world that creative solutions arise to solve our frantic problems.

When was the last time you slowed down or slipped out of the mainstream?  Have you ever had a solution come to you in a time of extreme noise?  Extreme quiet?

Story-goers: What were some of your favorite quotes?


6 thoughts on “One Unholy Smear

  1. Ann was my favorite speaker as well. Her and Ian Cron.

    The last time I slowed down and slipped out of mainstream was when I visited my fiancee’s dad and stepmom in Texas… (vacation).

    I’ve definitely had solutions come to me in times of extreme noise. I’m very good at looking at the big picture while in the midst of a situation.

    Good stuff Allison!

    • Yes! Ian Cron was awesome! And I definitely envy your ability to come up with solutions while in the midst of extreme noise. I’m one of those that needs some semblance of quiet, whether that’s in nature, in my car with the radio off, in the moments before I fall asleep, etc.

      Thanks for commenting, Graham!

  2. Hey, just stumbled upon your blog and think it’s great.
    I am a recent college grad who has only found a part time job so far. So I’ve really been struggling with these same kinds of questions. Should I be defined by a job? Who am I now that I’m not busy 24/7 with college life? What does success really mean? I am definitely learning to live in the moment right now, to enjoy each day, to be content in the here and now. Because life doesn’t have to be lived in the fast lane or the corporate ladder to be beautiful. So maybe this time of slowness and quietness is my time of just waking up to what life really means.
    I’m a writer, too. I love to write stories. Two of my favorite quotes right now are:
    I want to see mountains again. Mountains, Gandalf! And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book. Oh, tea!
    -Bilbo Baggins (from the movie, Lord of the Rings)
    Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler
    So I think I can be content to see mountains, to sip hot cups of tea, to think and to write–and hopefully not bleed too much mental blood during this whole creative process! Heh…

  3. Pingback: The Universal Ache of Mattering | The Get-a-Life Project

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