“Each failure holds a gift, if we can hear the beat of the rhythm that calls us.”
Artist Jeanne Carbonetti believes that the rhythm of creative life is much like that of an oyster as it creates a pearl. In her beautifully illustrated book, “Making Pearls: Living the Creative Life,” she describes the process as having seven stages, each one associated with a color:
1) Waiting: As the oyster cements itself to a stationary object to begin its pearl-making, so do we focus on a beautiful question to inspire us.
2) Opening: We take in new ideas and approaches and then keep or discard them, much as the oyster filters out what it does not need.
3) Closing: A grain of sand lodges in the oyster shell and is protected, so the pearl actually begins as an irritation! We also protect our creation-to-be.
4) Holding: We continue to hold on as the creation proceeds and the “pearl” rolls around to take its final shape.
5) Releasing: The creation leaves its shell, possibly changed somewhat from the original intention; we begin the process of letting go.
6) Emptying: We honor the ending of a creation; the process of letting go is complete.
7) Sitting: This is the final stage of creation, regardless of what the outcome has been. There is no activity; this is the greater pause, the time when we access the larger world by non-doing.
The stages are described in imaginative detail by Ms. Carbonetti and are accompanied by photos of her watercolor paintings, which are almost spiritual in nature. I highly recommend this book to artists of all mediums – it is helping me to better understand my emotions as I struggle through the process of making my own pearls.