“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.”
Creativity takes time. It asks us to enter the unknown, isn’t always comfortable or even familiar. It’s a place of chaos, wilderness, a place we wander a dark hallway, bumping into forms and shapes.
It’s often messy, imperfect, a draft, a version, a vision.
It makes sense that we often take the easy road, the pre-packaged, pre-determined path or product. Someone else’s vision, sweat, labor. We live in a culture that prizes conformity, false perfection. Bodies are photoshopped past perfection into magazines. Neat endings affixed to movies.
If you find yourself longing for something other, outside of what is offered, you’re not odd or even alone. You’re likely just curious, creative.
I venture we are all creative. This takes many forms…. Life asks us to be creative in many, many ways. We may not make art. Perhaps your form of creativity is to create community, or environmental awareness, or to figure out how to stretch a slim paycheck to feed a large family. We are all, constantly given opportunities for dreaming up new solutions to our existing problems, as well as to create articles of beauty, meaning and commentary.
But so long as we focus on perfection of outcome we’re doomed to feel defeated, depressed, lost. That doesn’t mean we give up on outcomes, it means we have to learn to trust and enjoy the journey so we aren’t always pushing into fatigue and disappointment.
At this time of year it takes immense creativity to resist the inertia of commercialism, of consumerism, of being asked to behave in a certain way because of family or religious pressures. I’ve always loved the ritual and trimmings of the Christmas season. I was raised without any religion, in Marin and Sonoma county—my parents threw the I ching and studied the stars. I learned about religion in college. But that didn’t stop me from loving what many cultures love about this holiday: shining light in the dark—literally. I love my town when lit up in spirals of twinkling lights. I love the shiny, glittering, magic of dressing up reality to make it seem a little prettier, better. So I see this time of year as a call to make light out of the dark, to find the inner light, to integrate our shadow with our conscious self.
I want to remind you that at the edges of the obligations and responsibilities of our lives there are all these ways we can be creative that deepens our connection to each other, and takes us into new territory where all manner of fruits are born. Being creative means being fearless, intimate, vulnerable, innovative, persistent and magical as we strive to be creative in our own ways, not dictated by our culture, the holidays, commercialism or obligation.
One of the ways I’ve found to be effective at this is to ask what it is you are passionate about and how you can share/give that to others. Photography, baking, bicycling, surfing, writing, painting, naturalism, preservation, wine-making, holistic health, teaching, sewing, leading. What is your passion? I know that can sound like a cliché, but it’s one that’s based in deep truth. There is something that pulls on your imagination and heart.
Take a moment now to either sit quietly and muse on this topic, or, pull out your journal and muse on the answer for yourself. What is your particular brand of creativity? How can you use it to connect, engage, vitalize yourself and others?
Photo credit: Crayons by John Morgan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.