Tuesday, November 23, 2010


It is late November. Wild hurricanes of leaves dance down the streets creating a song that is crisp and lonely. When I stand on the back porch and look towards the woods, the trees are bare branched and I can see the nests of squirrels and birds silhouetted in the light of the sunset, which comes earlier and earlier every evening.

With its earthy color palate of browns, golds, and grays, and promise of colder weather to come, November is unapologetically about turning inwards. Trees shake off their showy autumn mane of leaves and the sap returns to the core. Animals and people gather food, share, nest and sleep longer (or desire too). The weather turns chilly and we spend more time inside, with coffee or tea, with books, or working like elves with a desire to wrap up the year.

Amidst all this, or because of it, I find November a perfect month for remembering the importance of returning to our internal selves. Whether it is a walk outside in the brisk air (often scented with wood smoke here in New England), a moment to ourselves, special time with family, or indulging in a few hours to explore an interest, a personal passion or favorite hobby, it is all about taking time to turn inward towards the core of who we are. Or, in other words, taking time to immerse ourselves.

Immersion is important because it allows us to recharge. Similar to incubation, the second stage of the creative process, immersion allows us to enter a space where we can experience flow, a sense of being connected, or allow our usual mental chatter or activities a vacation. This important and mysterious phase of the creative process usually takes place away from the active attempts of solving the problem—away from the “work.” It is where the subconscious is able to mull things over without the censors of the conscious mind. (How many ideas have you had before falling asleep? Or even in the shower when you are still waking up?)

Magical things happen when we allow ourselves to become immersed in an interest, a simple activity or a moment. Ideas and memories rise to the surface like bubbles in champagne—little trails of thought, connected and disconnected—are uncorked and released. Some linger, and new ideas form and sometimes become tangible solutions or new endeavors.

During the next few weeks on The Paper Compass we will go back to our roots, immersing ourselves in our core creative medium: paper. We will explore some of the ways to cultivate immersion and ideas through journaling, common place books, and letters. These are just some of the ways to gather ideas, consciously and unconsciously, and create a playground (or a launch pad) for ways to work through them or develop them.

I hope that you will join us! In the meantime, I encourage you to take some time to immerse yourself in something special this holiday.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving.