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What We Ache for: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul

What We Ache for: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul

by Oriah

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In her previous books, Oriah Mountain Dreamer has challenged readers to live with passion and honesty, to embrace the true, fallible, human self. What We Ache For is a moving and eloquent call to delve deeply into our creative selves, to do our creative work, and offer it to the world.

The creative process is essential to human nature. It is as


In her previous books, Oriah Mountain Dreamer has challenged readers to live with passion and honesty, to embrace the true, fallible, human self. What We Ache For is a moving and eloquent call to delve deeply into our creative selves, to do our creative work, and offer it to the world.

The creative process is essential to human nature. It is as essential as spirituality and sexuality, and in fact all three are deeply intertwined. What We Ache For is a practical book allowing readers to embrace the urgency and necessity of their creativity, whatever their medium — writing, painting, sculpture, dance, music, or film. As Oriah says, "Doing creative work allows us to follow the thread of what we ache for into a deeper life, offering us a way to cultivate a life of making love to the world."

Following Oriah through this journey in such chapters as "The Seduction of the Artist," "Learning to See," and "Risk and Sacrifice," What We Ache For challenges and inspires readers to fully embrace their artistic selves as a way of forging a path of spiritual unfolding.

Editorial Reviews

“Mountain Dreamer’s deceptively simple writing style makes major creativity aids accessible to a wide variety of readers.”
Publishers Weekly
"I am drawn to write not because I think the creative process will bring me happiness, but because when I write I am happy." So admits Oriah Mountain Dreamer, writer, artist, workshop and retreat leader. Sharing more than a handful of deeply personal experiences, she demonstrates the intrinsic connection between creativity, spirituality and sexuality, which she defines as "an awareness of and appreciation for our physical life and a material reality alive with sensual detail." While most of her examples discuss the process of writing, she carefully includes all forms of creativity-from dance to music to physical art. A ready-made audience familiar with her bestselling titles (The Invitation, The Dance and The Call) will welcome her latest offering. New readers, artists or not, will find a variety of treasures within this volume: the suggested contemplations, warm-up or writing exercises or even just her personal struggles as a creator. Many may breathe a sigh of relief when given permission to end a thought mid-sentence if it's going nowhere; may not realize that they're stifling creativity if they're trying to create in the same place they pay their bills; may not admit that creative people must cultivate "necessary silence." Those looking to refresh their spirit, revive their creativity or merely get to know themselves better should spend some time with this book. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.85(d)

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What We Ache For
Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul

Chapter One

What We Ache For

We ache to touch intimately what is real, to find the marriage of meaning and matter in our lives and in the world. We ache to feel and express the fire of being fully alive. When we cultivate and refuse to separate those essential expressions of a human soul -- our spirituality, sexuality, and creativity -- we feed the fire of our being, we find that place where the soul and the sensuous meet, we unfold. Willing to do our creative work and refusing to separate it from our sexuality or our spirituality, we add a life-sustaining breath to the world.

Yesterday I received news about two people seeking death. One, the elderly mother of a dear friend, declares repeatedly to those at her bedside that she is ready to go, finished with life in a body that seems to be failing by painfully slow incremental steps. Her son, my friend, writes to me of her struggle to leave. Sometimes she verbally rambles, sometimes she lucidly recalls old songs and stories. Mostly she is quiet, waiting. She lies in bed refusing to eat, willing herself to go, spasms running through her limbs from the effort of trying to leave her body, only to find one breath following another and another, continuing against her will.

The other is an old friend who was briefly a lover many years ago, a gifted architect in his late sixties who, despite being well loved by his wife and children as well as many friends, has struggled with depression for years. He disappeared four days ago, and those closest to him fear that he has lost his fight with some inner darkness and has jumped unnoticed from the ferry near his home, has been swallowed by the watery darkness of a January night.

Both bits of news arrived yesterday but only reached me today. Sometimes it takes time for unwelcome information to find a way around the defenses of daily living. This morning I said prayers for the man and the woman and for those who love them and went about my business. But this afternoon, as I drove home from picking up eggs and milk in the village nearby, I noticed the way the crimson light of the setting sun seemed to set the icecovered trees at the side of the road on fire. Something in this impossible marriage of fire and ice made the muscles of my chest tighten. And these stories of death finally penetrated my body. My skin flashed hot and I was drenched in sweat, and then a bonedeep chill swept through me as I thought of the sought-after deaths: one, the feverish exertion of trying to leave the body; the other, a cold end in black water. The words of the Robert Frost poem "Fire and Ice" ran through my mind.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

I felt how often we are headed in the wrong direction, fighting the wrong fight, battling with reality and losing. I thought of the aspects of myself that are like this woman and this man: how I strive over and over again to determine something with my will despite all the evidence that it is simply not up to me; how I sometimes mistake surrender for giving up and giving over to that which would rob me of life. To the woman, to the willful aspect of myself, I want to say, "Let go. Let it be as it is. Even this you cannot make happen as you think it should, and if you keep trying, the ease you long for will continue to elude you, and you and those who love you will suffer. It is not your life but simply Life, and it will take its own time, follow its own rhythm." To the man, to the part of me that at times, if only for a moment, has felt the icy chill of despair that comes when I realize I am once again not handling well what life has given me, I want to say, "Don't. Don't even allow the thought of throwing it away. Isn't life already too short, over too soon for all that waits to unfold within us? Fight for it. Reach for it, if not for yourself, then for those who come after us, for all of our children. Don't."

I wonder and am somewhat dismayed at how often we hang on where we need to let go and give up where we need to persevere.

I am surprised by how deeply I am touched by these two stories. Connection make us vulnerable to grief and loss even as it offers us the intimacy that heals and sustains us. As I read my friend's letter I think of my own sons and know how much it must mean to this woman to have her son with her as she dies. And I think of my mother and remember that whatever else is true of our relationships with our mothers, they have been the very ground of our physical existence, and so their passing must send a tremor through the emotional earth upon which we stand, must leave us bereft in some fundamental way even when we can anticipate and accept the inevitability of the loss.

Waiting to hear if they have found the body of the man I once knew, I am surprised at how past intimacy makes this loss seem immediate despite the fact that we have had only minimal contact in recent years. I have had other friends die but never one with whom I made love. I don't know why this makes a difference, but it does ...

What We Ache For
Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul
. Copyright © by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Oriah is the author of the inspirational prose poem and international bestselling book The Invitation as well as the bestsellers The Dance and The Call. Her writing sets forth in detail how we can follow the thread of our heart's longing into a life of meaning and purpose. Her latest book, What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul, explores creativity as a way of accessing and cultivating a spiritually rich life. Oriah is the mother of two grown sons. She lives with her husband, Jeff, several hours north of Toronto in a home surrounded by forest stillness.

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