I’m writing this blog post from one of my favorite places on the planet, the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
I love Ghost Ranch for a million different reasons… the incredible red rock beauty, its connection with one of my creative mentors Georgia O’Keefe and the spiritual energy that infuses every rock and tree and mesa on this land.
I teach at a lot of different retreat centers. And I have noticed that each center embodies a certain elemental quality. Tioga Lodge in the high Sierras is Air with it’s connection to spirit, inspiration and a vast otherworldly spaciousness. Mountain Home Ranch in the Redwood forest is Earth, enhances those qualities of embodied groundedness, nourishing presence and a lively sense of riotous growth.
But Ghost Ranch is Fire. And fire is the element of transformation via the process of destruction. It burns things down to the bone changing them irrevocably. It strips away and leaves behind a clean slate with which to create your life anew.
Fire is also the trickster. Bringing in the unexpected and the unpredictable at every turn. With fire you have to be on your toes at all times. Being willing to respond to the changed and changing circumstances at the drop of a hat.
And at Ghost Ranch I have experienced that volatile and capricious energy more times than I can even begin to count.
Two weeks before this current retreat I got a call from the event co-ordinator at the ranch letting me know that the meeting rooms I had rented from them in which I was to create my painting studio were no longer available and they were going to move me somewhere else.
I have been going to Ghost Ranch for close to 17 years and I have used the same meeting rooms that entire time. I know those rooms intimately and have everything all worked out in terms of how many easels I can erect, how many students will comfortably fit in the space, where the paint tables go, etc. Plus, I have a number of students who come to the ranch with me year after year and they all have their favorite spots to paint.
I was a bit rattled to say the least and more than cranky with Ghost Ranch for pulling the rug out from under me at the last minute.
I arrived at the ranch anxious to discover how this was all going to work out. I was having a teeny bit of trouble trusting in the flow of events. But even though adjustments had to be made, the new room ended up having some qualities that actually worked better than the old one.
It was a prettier location and provided a greater sense of intimacy for the participants. We lost some of the wild rambling spaciousness of the old room but we gained a sense of a more solid container. The fire trickster was hard at work once again, taking things away but also clearing the path for new things to come into being.
Later in the week I got an email from one of the women who had signed up to begin my upcoming teacher training ( that starts in three weeks) letting me know that she had to drop out for family reasons.
Again, my first very human response to the trickster energy was to be rattled and cranky. Stomping my feet and howling NOOOOOO!! I don’t want this to be happening. I don’t want to deal with this right now. As if fire energy cares one iota about my preferences.
I then went into high gear with a plan about getting the word out to my community in the hopes of finding a person to fill the empty spot.
Then literally HOURS later, I was sitting at lunch in the cafeteria at the ranch talking about the teacher training program that begins NEXT year with one student and bemoaning the fact that I had this unexpected opening in the upcoming one. Another woman sitting at the table overheard our conversation and began asking me questions about the program. One thing led to another and within 20 minutes she was realizing that this was EXACTLY what she had been looking for, the dates worked and …. Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom … she signed on the dotted line and I will be seeing her again at the beginning of October.
Trickster and fire work FAST! So fast that they make your head spin. Manifesting opportunities one moment, taking them away the next and leaving you panting and befuddled but ultimately in some brand new and unexpected place.
This trickster energy is also one of the many faces of creative flow. Everyone wants creative flow because they imagine it as a peaceful and pleasant ride where you are surrendering to events that always work out in your favor.
In these two examples I just shared with you things ultimately DID work out in ways that I couldn’t even begin to imagine. And I was in the flow. But this experience of flow was more like trying to maneuver my way around the boulders and eddies of a class five rapids without crashing my kayak on the rocks below than it was sunning myself on a placid lake.
And that is OFTEN how flow works. Surrender means opening yourself to anything that presents itself to you and allowing spirit to lead the way.
Flow doesn’t need for you to be serene and accepting or even believing in it. You can be as cranky as you need to be and doubting every step of the way. But flow does demand that you continually show up and let the elemental energies flip you over and turn you around.
And hopefully gain a bit more trust in the mysterious unfolding of life in the process.