An Abundance of Potions

Day 19 – Unfolding Beauty

Good morning to all 229 readers. Last call for music for our collaborative playlist. If there's a song that's brought you comfort lately, let me know. —Jack

Today's challenge: Make art.

In the strive to be helpful to your community, productive at work, and successful in life, what often gets lost in the thicket of achievement is that which you pursue without purpose—that which you don't pursue at all, but do for the beauty of doing. What gets de-prioritized in a world of priorities is the act of making art.

Tough enough as it is, to remember this during normal times. Even tougher, during crisis. It helps here to think back to childhood, to those days of drawing pictures, or inventing songs and stories. Of drawing not to get into galleries, writing not to get published, singing or playing not to sell records. When it was thrilling—and enough—to simply unfold beauty.

Your challenge today is to re-engage with purposelessness. To bask, as you did when you were a child, in the unfolding. Sit down in front of a notebook, sketch pad, instrument, blank document. Close your eyes, and wait. Watch and listen for the first image, melody, or words. Then follow it where it goes. Compose a free-verse poem or, if structure helps, a haiku. Grab magazines and scissors, and make a collage. Let a step or two lead you into a new dance.

Most importantly, don’t share the end result. Keep it to yourself, or within your household. If you need external motivation, some lighthouse in the distance, let the completion of this challenge be the reward. Think, for one day, about creating art, rather than producing work. Unfold, unfold, unfold!

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

(Alice Walker)