Today, in our Friday morning e-salon, a topic came up that I understand too well: the emotional valleys between the peaks of creativity. The overwhelming presence of the things that make us doubt. The applause we don’t hear. The fact that the products of our creation are trees in the forest that too often fall unheard.

We create. We imagine. We doubt. We doubt some more. And then what?

How do we pick ourselves us and move forward? How do we proceed in the knowledge that the feedback didn’t come…the next gig didn’t follow…the blog went unread…the piece was rejected?

Falling into that emotional not-so-grand canyon is too easy. We walk at the cliffs’ edges of ourselves, along uncharted paths that can—and do—too easily crumble away under our feet. Rejection (or, more often, the resounding echo of our voices into the nothingness of response) is devastating. And that lack of recognition is always present, or about to be.

I offered a solution of the moment…and, interestingly enough, it was one that another creative friend had offered to my salon-partner the evening before.

I’ll call it “conscious joy.” And it’s a pretty delightful thing.

There is a world that exists outside the big scary silence of our heads. Hard to keep reminding ourselves of it, but there is. This is a world filled with the pleasures of the moment; the things that keep us anchored to the earth. The sensations that pull us out of the darkness and find our way back to something other than misery. Small things with huge juju.

The other-salon-friend mentioned the pleasure of clean sheets. The warm body in bed. The comfort of the pillow. I’ll add others: Clancy the cat asleep beside me, with his head on my hand. The pool of sunlight that warms my feet in the chilly house. The changing smell of the day. The prism-rainbows that visit my living room walls in the morning. The flight of a small bird. The sky.

Do these moments have the power to chase the darkness? Not permanently, no. Do they draw the massive and uncertain world down into manageable bits that we can identify and touch? Yes. Do they give us a momentary sense of balance than quells the echo in us? Damned right.

Discovering the small gratitudes that can help us find ourselves in ourselves: Sometimes it’s the only life preserver we have in the stormy oceans of our heads. Sometimes, it’s all we need.

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