“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”― Martha Graham
January ushers in a new year which lays before us like a 365 blank page journal. Knowing that you have that much time to design your life, what will you place on each page? Before you object that you are not creative, consider that you create each moment with the thoughts you have and the decisions you make. Each of us is a work of art, designed by a creative energy or entity, whatever you believe it to be. It is given to us to decide what to do with that creative spark.
What were you taught about creativity? Did the adults in your life encourage your gifts or tell you that you should color in the lines? Did they admonish you to keep your youthful enthusiasm under wraps? A delightful singer-songwriter named Karen Drucker was told when she was young that she should just hum. What if she had listened to that instruction? The world would have missed out on her healing music.
Lady Gaga had many naysayers in her youth who attempted to squelch her creativity. She took their words and translated them to a ‘watch me’ attitude. Imagine what those who bullied her think now, seeing her soar personally and professionally.
January is International Creativity Month and was launched by Randall Munson, a motivational speaker and author of Creativity 102, which leads people through a journey of imagination. What would it be like to enter your own Imaginarium, a room in which art supplies, books, music, space for dance, and musical instruments of all sorts are waiting just for you, to immerse yourself in creative play? Take a moment to get a sense of what such a space would look, sound, smell, feel and taste like. Walk in with child-like wonder. Remember your first set of crayons and how you might have opened the box, beheld a rainbow array, and crafted an image that the adults in your life proudly displayed on the refrigerator. Turn on the music that best lifts your spirits and beckons you to move your body. Dance like no one is watching OR like the world is, if you like being on stage. Invite the Muses in to inspire you. Choose to be there by yourself or invite others in to join you.
An inspiring TED talk offered by author and speaker Elizabeth Gilbert, who penned the bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, is called Your Elusive Creative Genius. In it, she relates her own narrative: after writing her runaway hit novel, she was confronted with people’s fear-based comments. She wondered if she would ever top the novel or if the people’s comments would put a roadblock to her further creative success. She encouraged people to explore the ‘Divine attendant spirit’ who spoke to them. Gilbert tells an engaging story about the rough-edged musician Tom Waits who, as she describes it, “while driving on the LA Freeway, he hears this little fragment of melody that comes into his head as inspiration often comes, elusive and tantalizing, and he wants it, you know, it’s gorgeous, and he longs for it, but he has no way to get it. He doesn’t have a piece of paper, he doesn’t have a pencil, he doesn’t have a tape recorder.”
“So he starts to feel all of that old anxiety start to rise in him like, ‘I’m going to lose this thing, and then I’m going to be haunted by this song forever. I’m not good enough, and I can’t do it.’ And instead of panicking, he just stopped. He just stopped that whole mental process and he did something completely novel. He just looked up at the sky, and he said, ‘Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving? Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen.”
Who knows whether the song ever came back around to Waits or if it did go visit Leonard Cohen?
Sir Ken Robinson offers his ideas about the ways in which the mainstream educational system restricts and reduces children’s creativity in his TED talk, called “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” He says that children are willing to be creative until it is criticized out of them. As people develop, they internalize that voice. One of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon the children in our lives is to encourage their creativity.
Ideas for keeping creativity flowing:
- Take a few moments each day to simply gaze at an object of interest and witness the inherent beauty in it. No judgment about whether it is beautiful or perfect.
Experience what in Japanese culture is referred to as ‘kintsugi’ or ‘wabi sabi,’ Wikipedia describes it as: ” A comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”
- With that in mind, gather your art supplies, writing tools, music, instruments, and have at it.
- Surround yourself with creative people who courageously explore their gifts whether on an amateur or professional basis.
Visit art exhibits, attend concerts, dance performances, poetry readings and author events and sit in awe at what emerged from their own desire to create beauty and magic and wonder in the world.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”― Maya Angelou