How to Survive the Creative Life: Lessons from the US Forest Service
This was a good work week in the studio. I’ve got two large canvases going and am getting ready to start a third. But there were moments when I got lost in the wilderness that is a work in progress and asked myself “Where am I? What am I supposed to do next?” Instead of panicking (which I have done so often), I have stayed calm and focused. It has allowed me to ease my way through the disorientation and uncertainty and back to where I need to be.
I smiled this morning when I read this post about the discovery of a 1946 safety flyer written by the US Forest Service. Its original intention was to prepare hikers and campers for the possibility of getting lost in the woods. But its finder and others also saw spot-on advice for those involved in the creative process.
Michelle Legro teased out the main points:
- Finding oneself is the test of man.
- Merely being out of sight of others in a strange forest gives a man the creeps — a natural feeling but a dangerous one. Never yield to it.
- Stop, sit down, and try to figure out where you are. Use your head, not your legs.
- Build a fire in a safe place.
- Don’t wander about.
- Don’t yell, don’t run, don’t worry, and above all, don’t quit.
- A thinking man is never lost for long. He knows that…he must remain where he is or push on to some definite objective, but not to the point of exhaustion…that someone will be looking for him, and strength in that knowledge makes hardships easier.