• Moments of carefree happiness. Photos: (c) Mathias & Angela Tölken

    Maintaining the well, or: when water levels are low

    Posted by Angela & filed under Contemplation-Blog.

    Some years ago I thoroughly engaged with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (Pan Books: 1993), a stimulating work book for introspective creatives. One of the main concepts I internalized whilst working through the material is the notion of scooping from a pond or well when it comes to being creative. How well the pond it stocked and taken care of directly relates to the amount and quality of one’s creative output – an idea that I increasingly believe in. With my growing awareness of the relation between input and output, however, also comes an ever increasing cognizance of the resulting responsibility towards myself: If I am to respect my creativity, I better look after myself (and my pond) appropriately.

    Despite the above realization I often catch myself doing anything but attending to the well I rely on. Getting bogged down by multiple (often self-induced) demands on my time and energy periodically results firstly in a state of “low water levels” – an analogy introduced to me by a once-close friend, and secondly a depleted pond. With lower water levels in a stream, even the smallest rocks become visible, if not stick out. Consequently, it becomes easy to focus on them, rather than on the surrounding water. Similarly, when “water levels are low” in terms of a personal state, one tends to focus on those (more or less ever-present) niggles which inevitably form part of one’s personality, habits and reality, often resulting in a negative feedback loop: already limited energy is spent to focus on something negative, which depletes energy levels even further.

    Since the pond or well is fed by a “water stream” (i.e. the well represents an accumulation and synergy of all its influx), it does not take long for the pond to become stale and depleted when “water levels are low”, thereby jeopardizing the last and most important resort from which I as a creative person draw. To prevent (or more realistically: counter-act) the eventual depletion of the well I try to remind myself of what it takes to “raise my water levels” as soon as I notice the “stones appearing”, thus becoming aware again of what I owe myself:

    Moments of happiness, inspiration, balance and freedom

    … Going for a 05:30am run with the moon still up, amongst porcupines, buck and owls, revelling in the fresh morning air. Enjoying the silence, settling into a perfect rhythm, working in harmony with the body until there is complete, wholesome tiredness. …

    … Connecting with people through meaningful interactions, sharing insights, engaging in philosophical discussions, exploring deeper levels of being and stimulating intellectual agility. …

    … Enjoying culinary creations and experiences in good company, relaxing after achieving whatever has been aimed for, laughing, sharing, being (care)free. …

    … Engaging all my senses to observe nature in all its forms – admiring colour, beauty, symmetry, precision and order; caressing textures and patterns. …

    … Enjoying the simplicity of living outdoors when camping, hiking and touring. No rush, no clock to watch, no people. Life is simple, elemental and non-contradictory as one becomes part of a bigger whole. …

    … Feeling complete in wide, empty spaces. Silence. Peace. A multitude of textures, patterns, colours and moods, nothing is out of place. Here my spirit can truly soar. …

    Whilst it is not usually possible to create these moments of happiness, inspiration and balance in abundance, I remind myself that there are numerous tiny instances of them in any day – especially when one succeeds to live in the moment completely, thereby eliminating the constantly nagging thoughts about the next items on the to-do list, or the next appointment, or the next task ahead. Being without these deliberations even for a short while is truly liberating. 


    Moments of carefree happiness. Photos: (c) Mathias & Angela Tölken

    Moments of carefree happiness. Photos: (c) Mathias & Angela Tölken

    Outdoor moments. Photos: (c) Angela & Mathias Tölken

    Outdoor moments. Photos: (c) Angela & Mathias Tölken

    The fascination of nature. Photos: (c) Angela & Mathias Tölken

    The fascination of nature. Photos: (c) Angela & Mathias Tölken


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