Welcome to my series of articles about Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World. Week Twelve is about Discovering a Sense of Dignity. I have posted an article related to each chapter almost every Wednesday as I worked my way through the book. This is the last week, the last chapter in the book, which makes me a little sad. I always hate it when I finish a book I really enjoy. It feels as if I have become friends with Julia through reading her words. Even though I have finished the book, I know I will come back to it often.
So, what is the last chapter about? Dignity. Hmm…….
When I first saw the title for Week Twelve, I was a little disappointed. After all this is the last chapter in the book. I don’t know what I was expecting but reading about having dignity sounded slightly boring. I wasn’t sure what Julia had in mind. Julia divided the weekly reading into four sections: The Glass Mountain, Landing, Age and Time, and Service. Each section had its own task that went along with the subject matter.
It took me a while to understand what Julia was talking about when she spoke of a glass mountain. Since I have moved to Oregon, I have been interested in doing some hiking on some of the mountain trails near the Mt. Hood area. I know that hiking is hard and going uphill is difficult. Can you imagine trying to climb a glass mountain? I would suspect there would be a lot of falling down and not getting very far in the climb due to the slippery slope.
Julia talked of projects being in the “glass mountain” phase, where nothing goes well with the work. She spoke of the “glass mountain” of creative doubt. The glass mountain is invisible to others. It belongs to the artist and the artist has to learn to deal with it. Julia gives examples of ways she lived through the “glass mountain” phase of some of her projects. Going away on a month long retreat sounds incredible, but I doubt many of us could do that. Julia even gives the idea of going to a spiritual center such as a convent or monastery for quiet time. But if that won’t work, she suggests the back corner of a Starbucks or library.
In the next section of the reading, Julia speaks of artist active in their creativity as being in flight. When you are in flight at some point you will need to land. How is that landing going to go? Softly? Hard with a lurch? Is it going to be a crash landing? Sometimes we get so caught in the flight we forget the importance of the landing. We land badly. We crash and burn. Julia suggests things that can be done to help the landing process after finishing a large creative project. The task in this section is to make a list of ten activities you can do that make you feel grounded and make that landing easier.
In the section titled, Age and Time, I was surprised to find that Julia was writing Walking in This World at the age of 54. I don’t know what age I was expecting her to be. I am 54 also. Is it a coincidence that I am reading this book at exactly the same age? I don’t know. It made me feel good to know that Julia was learning how to play the piano at that age. I have so many things I still want to do and learn. Sometimes I find myself thinking that I am too old to do some things. Seeing Julia’s example makes me hopeful for a continued life of learning and doing as much as possible.
The last section of the Week Twelve reading was titled Service. I immediately thought of doing service for others, the homeless, the poor, the disabled. Julia speaks of artists in the past making art for the glory and honor of the Lord. Julia says, ” Whenever we take our art back to the realm of the sacred, whenever we make it an act of service in any form, if only to such an idea as beauty or truth or humanity, but perhaps better when it is more personably serviceable, we again experience the ease of creative flow and the lessening of our creative doubt. ”
Our creativity is a gift. We need to use that gift as a service to others or God. So where does the sense of dignity come into play? We live a creative life with a sense of dignity when we make a commitment to continue creating and to making our world and ourselves better as we move forward.
You might want to read my other articles about Walking in This World, by Julia Cameron.
Links to those articles are below:
Week One – Discovering a Sense of Origin
Week Two – Discovering a Sense of Proportion
Week Three – Discovering a Sense of Perspective
Week Four – Discovering a Sense of Adventure
Week Five – Discovering a Sense of Personal Territory
Week Six – Discovering a Sense of Boundaries
Week Seven – Discovering a Sense of Momentum
Week Eight – Discovering a Sense of Discernment
Week Nine – Discovering a Sense of Resiliency
Week Ten – Discovering a Sense of Camaraderie
Week Eleven – Discovering a Sense of Authenticity