A couple of hours after listening to a visual meditation about a classic artwork titled “Yes or No”, I had a surge of inspiration over coffee at the local cafe. Darn. I hadn’t bought pen or paper. I could sit and let it flow. However, why not ask?

I asked the staff for a paper bag and to borrow a pen. Sure!

Running ink across the waxy surface, I felt a rush of excitement. I remembered “lunch order” days at school, when we’d write the order on a paperbag.

And, right now, was the thrill of the freedom to be creative on “inexpensive” paper. And trying something new … for the fun of it.

Would you like to try “paper bag” journalling?

Easy to do in a cafe or on the road. You can slip things inside to find later, draw on front and back, and take it home to stick in your journal as a momento.

  • Grab a paper bag and a picture of something, even torn out of a magazine.
  • While you look at the picture – let words or images flow out onto the page.
  • For me, the words flowed first (on the back), then came the picture (on the front)
  • Add as little or as much colour as you like
  • Slip the picture inside
  • Stick into your journal.

Notes on my own adventure

The vase came first, inspired by the image from the artwork. I added flowers, remembering the “he loves me, he loves me not” play of childhoood. Oh, the universal human longing for clarity, certainty …

Then there’s dice, a tatts lotto ticket, and a shopping list that helps bring some ease to life by making things a habit such as what to eat for breakfast or get done today.

I get a joyful sense of freedom. I reminder than when I’m hearing that I “must” answer “yes or no” it’s almost always an artificial deadline. What’s the rush? Why not say maybe? Why not collaborate with myself and others and find a solution that feels easy and even joyful?

I also enjoyed empathically exploring what might have been at stake for the woman in this photo. My guess is that she was considering a marriage proposal (letter on the table), and perhaps mourning a lost love (photo in the hand behind her back).

What would the price have been for her to say no? Maybe missing out on peace of mind of financial security, company, closeness, mattering, respect – things that might come with being “Mrs” someone in a stately home.

If she said no, what would she also be saying yes to? Freedom? Authenticity? Self-respect? Peace? Wholeheartedness? Mourning? Passion?

And what if she said, “maybe” or “not yet”. What would the price be for that?

Force or freedom of habits

Ah, this got me thinking about why we humans tend to create rituals in our day. We get ease in that we don’t have to think too much about what to have for breakfast, or dream up what to say when we pass our neighbour in the street … and yet, I reckon creativity and awareness and joy of life comes from those moments when we are aware of conscious choice. At the same time, how painful that experience can be – trying to make a choice that doesn’t feel life-serving … or when we’re aware that the consequences could be significant.

Oh, for more freedom to make a decision that I might regret, trusting that something comes out of it anyway. To “miss out” on one thing in order to say yes to another. Or to leave the possibility open that we might find a way to have more needs met through a solution that isn’t a black and white “yes” or “no.

There ends my morning muse! Thanks for dropping in.

Visual meditation as a creative prompt

Would you like to try the visual meditation on Millais’ “Yes or No”? It’s available here …