Further Up and Further In

I always loved the feeling I got reading the last chapter of the final book of CS Lewis’ Chronicals of Narnia, The Last Battle, as the animals keep calling to the children to keep running, “Come further up! Come further in!” That phrase filled me with the sense of a world that was more expansive, more vibrant than I could imagine. It not only tapped into that instinct that told me there is more to reality than what I see, but extended an invitation to continually move into the unknown and believe that what I found would be tangible and surprising. Not only that, but an openess to discovery is in some way a part of the creation process. (Thus the dwarves are left sitting in a dark shed, their perception limited by their ‘reasonable’ expectations of reality, while Emeth moves on into bright open meadows.) That lesson was great preparation for being an artist. This year, I find myself needing to listen to that call and believe that promise again as the new year prompts reflection on life, the universe and everything.

The past year I’ve had some fun successes and some pretty spectacular failures. I try to build on the one and learn from the other. Above all, I need to find sources of motivation in both. Success can make you complacent, failure can immobilize you. So perhaps it is because I’ve tasted both recently that I feel the call of “further up and further in” so sharply this year. I don’t want to re-create a new version of what I’ve already done. I want to challenge myself. I want to reach for something I haven’t seen yet, and I need to believe that there is something solid for my grasping fingers to encounter, even though right now it is an ephemeral, fuzzy idea in my head.

OK, this all sounds a bit like self-actualization mumbo-jumbo. Except if you think about it, I have a way to frame this feeling because Lewis listened, believed and echoed the call in his writing. The resonation of that echo in me and other readers is part of that surprising, magic reality that lies beyond what Lewis, or any human, could see. If I start by listening and believing, and if I keep running “further up and further in” with the daily work of creating, then what I am striving for is something that, when shared, will echo the hope and promise of a more expansive, vibrant, surprisingly tangible world and will extend the invitation to continue reaching for that world. And who knows? Maybe one day we will get there together.

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