I wrote this piece a while ago, but was reminded of it by seeing Josie Adam’s actual Golden Bird painting today at her studio
Your Sacred Golden Bird
My therapist talked to me years ago ago about how I saw the Golden Bird in other people, but not in myself. I could not really understand what she was saying, although I understood it a little. She was saying I had many talented, gifted, creative friends, and I could see their gift, but not necessarily my own. I could tell she was worried about me. I could not quite understand her worry. I thought “wow, I am lucky to have so many incredible friends who are so creative” Today, in week three of my writing group, I feel my own Golden Bird. My own Golden Bird is my own unique gift to the world. It is my book on creativity. It is me working in the studio with kids . It is me figuring out daily how to live creatively, and how I share that with the world. It is my creative dream of wanting to travel the world, journal and write, and make books about my experience. My Golden Bird is my own unique way I move in the world. For so long I had friends who had figured it out, Kathleen who makes incredible collage cards, Carolyn who made gorgeous shawls, Laurie who makes beautiful necklaces, and JilAnn who makes incredible documentaries. In ways it is easier to be more excited about other people’s gifts. In a way, I was mirrored in other people’s Golden Birds. There was a part of me there. But there was also a part of me that lived in their shadow. While basking in someone’s else light, it can be difficult to feel your own light. I think Julia Cameron calls it being a “shadow artist”.
Like many of the birds from myths, our Golden Birds can appear to us unexpectedly over the years. We can see glimpses of their glimmering wings in the trees. It might light outside our birdfeeder one morning in the early hours, when no one else is up, and then be gone as quickly as it came. We will question, did we actually see it? Did I imagine it? Is it someone else’s bird. The flickering luminescent gold wings will stick in our minds…calling to us. You’ll see it reflected in others peoples work sometimes, and sometimes it will stare you right in the face. Don’t take it for granted, your bird must be fed, and watered, and polished and cherished. People can encourage you, when they get occasional glimpses of it, but you can’t rely on the voices and encouragement of others. You must believe in your own bird, however crazy it may be, or may seem to you. For several years I wanted to paint in this dark red blood colour, that I was slightly emabrassed about , but I had to do it. It satisfied something visceral and primal in me. Your birds will often not make a lot of “sense” , it will feel deep, intuitive, and when you are doing it you know it is absolutely the right thing. Your bird can be an obsession with the same shape, or colour, or symbol. You keep making it until you are done, or it is done with you. I usually can’t explain the images and symbols that are important to me, especially when I am right “in it” with them. Feed, water, polish, cherish. Feed , Water, Polish. Your. Own. Bird.