It does not take a philosophical giant of a mind to recognize that the creative process rarely focuses upon logic, reason or a cautiously ordered path of investigation.
On the contrary, creativity is usually associated with an outside-the-box way of thinking: a messy, muddy, dirty, mistake-ridden type of engagement.
March represents this wonderful earthiness of imagination with its growl of an awakening world. Creatively, it labors winter into spring’s birth, connecting our cycle of life with the earth’s cycle of wonder.
Opening our backpack this month, we find mud. Lots of creative, gucky mud. March is nothing if it isn’t dirt clods, filthy gardening and rain soaked runs, a veritable spring training for the mind. Bringing us the primal music of earth’s maternal dance, it says, come, join the muddy humanness of it all, and indulge your inner creativity.
Of course, the recognition of our human connection to earthy cycles has its roots in many ancient philosophical traditions. But there are wonderful, “everyday” philosophers who naturally contemplate the world in its cycles, who recognize creativity within the mess. Joe DiMaggio, Studs Terkel, Albert Einstein, the French feminists, George Bernard Shaw, Roberto Clemente — these are March’s celebrated philosophers.
March offers us a respite from too-polished, solely academic contemplation, a break from over-censured, contrived scholasticism. Its marked transition from winter’s solitude and hibernation to outside exploration is exhilarating and liberating.
March’s breath brings lung-filling freedom to stifled, smothering worldliness. In its coarseness, we find a different type of distraction from the intellectualization of political concerns and grand solutions, from meeting rooms and obligations. Instead, we hungrily embrace a seed-spittin’, childhood re-livin’, mud-pie making, creative, corporeal here and now.
March makes us feel like saying, as journalist Pete Hamill says, “Don’t tell me about the world. Not today. It’s springtime and they’re knocking baseball around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball.”
This month is not choreographed or orchestrated, but it’s a sweaty, stinky, cleansing, wonderful time.
Embracing this muddy, earthy enthusiasm, the Irish philosopher and theologian Sister Stanislaus Kennedy speaks of her childhood in rural Ireland:
“The pattern of the day, the night, the year, and even life itself was lived unselfconsciously in the presence of God. The life of the people was deeply incarnational, whether saving the hay, telling the time from the sun and the tide, catching trout and salmon, going to stations, wakes, funerals, marriages, walking under hedges dripping with fuchsia, cutting and footing the turf or bringing tea to the fields or the bog.”
In awhile, prettily packaged spring will arrive and with it, a breathtaking selection of beautiful blooms. It will bring a pastel palette of sweet trappings, adorable baby animals and a host of lovely aesthetics to admire and appreciate.
For now, however, we have a free pass to play in the mud March offers. Céad míle fáilte — a hundred thousand welcomes — to go and get creative. To squish the earth between our toes and know what it means to be part of the awakening world.
Sophisticated work can wait for a while; now is the time to get creative.
So, go. Go play ball. Go make a beautiful mess.
Jennifer Lemma is a philosophy instructor at Walla Walla Community College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .