Tuesday, July 08, 2008
The thing about being creative is that it feeds the soul.
It isn't just about the product that you create. It isn't just about the glory of "being a writer" or "being an artist" or "being a dancer" or whatever medium you choose to create in. It isn't just about the community it creates, or the people you can reach with your work. It isn't just about publication or your volumes of journals in storage or putting that painting on the wall or that performance at the community center. All those things might give you a feeling of satisfaction and pride, but there is more to creating than that.
Creativity, in the physical, mental and spiritual act of creation, helps you. It helps your insides. It helps you understand your emotions. It helps you release them. It helps you stop and pay attention to the world around you. It helps you make sense of that world. It helps you try on another persona and step outside of yourself. It helps you dive into the very heart of your self and start to understand what it means to be you. It is fun, and it is challenging, it is purifying and it is relaxing.
Art can save your life. I think it's done so for me multiple times over.
So when I get stuck in the morass that is living sometimes, the gloomy moods and the exhaustion, the blocks, the fears, the busyness, too busy for me, it's awful easy to just chuck the work of creating, to just wallow in my struggles, but it isn't better.
Creating from the heart can be confrontational and difficult, painful or disappointing. Sometimes it doesn't come out the way we want it to. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, we have to sacrifice something else in order to do it. I don't think it gets easier when you go from being a student to an amateur to a hobbyist to an expert to a professional. It's just as hard, but maybe you build up a tolerance to the difficulty. Or maybe you learn tactics to get yourself through them. But no matter what level of commitment you have to creating, I truly believe it gives back to you more than it takes.
I guess I could look at the work of creating as part of my spiritual practice. In addition to being my calling and my career and my study and my joy. But even if you don't want to make art your career, even then, it feeds the soul. Anyone who steps up to creating art is going to get something back, I think, as long as they are willing to fight through the fear and confusion of beginning. That is one of the reasons I have taught art or poetry or film or writing to teenagers (I've seen kids start to glow when they truly connect with the work.) It's one of the reasons I want to make my children's lives full of creativity. It's one of the reasons I have been actively working with women's empowerment and creativity. It's why I advocate mothers, in the midst of all the responsibilities of being mothers, rediscovering or uncovering their own creative powers.
Because creating, in all it's forms, is food for the soul.
And life should be a feast.