In my home, I have a ratty throw pillow that I’ve filled to the brim with old stuffing, pieced together from various things my dogs have destroyed. The pillow isn’t sealed. It’s ornate face looks out into the room, hiding its backside, where stuffing peeps out through a busted zipper. Every evening, when I come home from work, my dogs have removed this pillow from its perch and crafted a new concoction out of the stuffing. Most days I find it’s guts strewn across the floor in a chaotic mess. I dispense an appropriate amount of dog shaming, re-stuff the pillow and move on.
One afternoon last week, I found the pillow belly up. Propped against the pillow was one lone, dirty pink croc, dragged in from the kitchen. A golden ray of sunshine found its way through my window, smeared in dog goobers, and fell upon the creation. It was poignant and beautiful and felt intentional.
There’s a very real possibility I’m engaging in spiritual escapism to reframe my dog’s poor behaviors in a transcendental, new-agey container. But I also think that there’s something about their daily stuffing concoction that speaks to the creative, generative process.
It seems to me, destruction demands creation in its wake, whether it’s a written work, a piece of art, a dance, a relationship or a child. In writing, it takes “killing your darlings” to get to the essence of the project; after a big power outage, nine months later there’s a whole cohort of “snow day” babies; after a divorce one can find a new relationship…you see the pattern. It’s often in the wake of destruction that the old patterns and belief systems are burned away, making room for the next thing. Creation is the embodiment of the phoenix rising.
Death or destruction seems to go hand in hand with resurrection or creation…one cannot exist without the other. Holding on to the past, not allowing it to die off, leads to suffering in the stagnation where we stop our own rebirth. Falling into the temptations of judgment, fear and doubt, halt the regenerating cycle of the self from occurring and keep us stuck in the muddy ashes.
I’ve been working the past few weeks on destroying the places within that squelch my own creativity. From relationships to friendships, from writing my novel to completing grad schoolwork, from dancing to choreographing my yoga classes, I am working on actively enjoying the process of creation, as an endless cycle of death and rebirth.
I continue to leave the half stuffed pillow as a canvas for the artists to destroy and create with—their pillow fluff art a daily reminder to me of my work.