Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Orchids and magnolias

I am taking a writing class. It’s been a very interesting experience: a very small class and lots of free writing and talking about things that might get in the way of the creative process.

Tonight, an extraordinary thing happened.

Our leader, David Storer, asked us to try an exercise in releasing the creative brain. It’s just Jeannette and me, and we dutifully close our eyes and listen as David asks us to relax. He says “Just bear with me, sort of new agey….” And we do. "Be here now, what do you see? What does your creative brain reveal?"

I begin to write. I see only a white orchid, with very narrow, delicate, pink stripes leading to its center. The orchid is perched, as orchids are, atop an ungainly wooden stem, above two clown shoe green leaves. The rest is just green, not in focus. As I write the orchid, the rest comes into view. I feel the grass waving against my bare leg, feel the cool, moist dirt against my bare foot, feet. I am walking beyond the orchid, but reach down to feel it as I pass—the petals resilient and cool. The orchid nods at my touch. Beyond the orchid, a clear stream, rolling over pebbles the size of oranges, but flat and colored like lentils, shiny. The water washes over my feet, cold and clear. The orchid, behind me now, is still there.

The exercise ends.

David asks if we want to share and looks directly at me. I am embarrassed to say what has happened. It’s all too Georgia O’Keefe. But I do say this: ‘I am amazed. When I write it’s because I see something, or hear something, and try to describe it. Haven’t ever felt this before, where I saw something internally, and the images were amazing.” I can’t say a thing about the white orchid.

David is so gentle. He nods and says thank you and turns his teddy bear gaze to Jeannette.

“I see white magnolias, everywhere, it’s amazing. A big house and green lawn. Peeling paint on the house. But the magnolias…” her voice trails off as she closes her eyes.

“OK, sister,” I say, “I wasn’t going to say it, but you have given me courage, because I saw a white orchid.”

We all laugh, and talk about how amazing it is to just let your head see what it sees.


A.J.Reams said...


I'm so jealous of people that can put their thoughts into words. You've got quite a talent.

Cynthia Bostwick said...


You are too kind. I consider it high praise coming from a gifted artist--your photos are simply amazing. I am jealous of people who can capture beauty on film.