Friday, 29 June 2012

Chocolate Chips and Authenticity

Hope this week has been, if not productive, at least kind to you! Hopefully everyone has been able to engage in some sort of creative endeavor. Remember, taking time to look at clouds, beautiful green fields, even to do the dishes, can be turned into a source of creativity.We can be magpies of ideas collecting things to turn into beautiful works. And if you can't act on them right away, then save them in your creative diary. You never know when you'll need it.

This week, while filled with historic handshakes and record-breaking rainfall, has also had the loss of a creative voice in the world. Writer Nora Ephron passed away this week. She has been the source of many moments of serious reflection from her film about nuclear contamination at a power plant in Oklahoma and the whistleblower's mysterious death in Silkwood to the laughter of the unforgettable sweetness and light of Sleepless in Seattle. There was also You've Got Mail and who could forget When Harry Met Sally and the scene in the diner? For me, a lot of what made her work so wonderful was the authenticity of the voices of the characters.

Ephron quite often used the inspiration of everyday life events as the seed of her creations and put a spin and polish on them that made her work have a ring of the universal. Even if you weren't intent on cooking all of Julia Child's recipes and blogging about them, many could relate to the Julie's character in Julie and Julia in wanting to establish herself in her chosen art of writing through whatever media she could. And the film made a character that I'd seen most of my adult life, chef Julia Child, into a real, living breathing person again with more depth than I'd ever realized. And there was a tenderness in the portrayal of Julia's husband that was so palpable which was reflected in Julie's relationship as well. I thought it was a brilliant film, not just about cooking, but about aspirations, goal achieving and the difficult but worthwhile work of maintaining relationships while achieving creative goals.

While we're not all Nora Ephrons there is something to be taken from her work's authenticity of voice. That authenticity rings through in her so very believable characters, and even when she wrote about real people, their own depths--flaws or attributes--were clear and defineable. Working in art or living authentically is based in self-examination.

Living an authentic life or creativing authentic art is not a new concept. Socrates famously wrote, 'An unexamined life is not worth living.' To be authentic in ourselves, having a clear vision of who we are, what we want to say and how we want to say it is not a one-time event and then we go forward. I think it is a regular routine we commit to. Check and re-check. Not with obssesive intensity, but a mild, guiding gentleness that allows us to be nudged forward or dig in and go deep in our creating.

That doesn't mean our work has to be earth-shattering, all powerful, knock-your-socks-off-every-time sort of creation. It just has to be real and true for us and that authenticity will resonnate with others. That is what the arts are about -- resonnating with other human beings. And the bonus of creating authentically is that you are stronger in who you are, happier in who you are and thereby more free to create. Sometimes it may be quite difficult to be who you truly are or desire to be after examination, but in the long run, you're the only you there is and that makes you valuable and thereby the effort to create valuable.

So, it seems fitting to end with a quote from Nora Ephron from her film Heatburn. There's a nice bit of hope in all this.
"I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance." -- Heartburn and Nora Ephron
Enjoy your week and some chocolate chip cookies! And maybe a fun Nora film.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post Mary! It was great to read more about Nora Ephron. I only really knew Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail. They're both films that I watch over and over, I love them. I didn't know that Julie & Julia was hers too- I LOVED that film! It was so funny and uplifting.

    And I love the quote you've included - the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, cool!