I hear one sentence over and over again from people who find out I'm an artist: “I'm not creative.”
I call bullshit on this.
Painting and writing are the primary tools I use to interpret the world. And we need to, sometimes. Interpret the world. The moments we observe and allow the world to BE as it is, those moments are beautiful. But a troubling question arose in my heart in a journal entry from February: “Sometimes I'm afraid I will always hang back and watch the beauty and wildness of life through other people's eyes.”
Everyone is creative. Yes, I'm talking to you. At a very basic level, we create ourselves as we live. You know that paralyzing fear that occasionally grips us when we might, just for a second, expose ourselves to someone else? The “You're not good enough,” the “someone else does that better, why should you bother,” the “I wish I could do that.” It might not even be that obvious, that doubt can show up as our rabid consumption of thoughts and art that other people have created. We do it all the time. There's music, movies, art, yes, but it's also books (nonfiction counts), lectures, our family and culture-- we interact with ideas that are not ours daily and hourly. Some things we adopt, some things we reject, but after a while this can become a habit. We go grocery shopping for our opinions, our advice, our exercise routines, the answers to life, the answer to how to be in relationship with people. With ourselves.
Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of conflicting ideas out there?
Imagine all of that, going on inside of us. Everything we see, we hear, we experience, all that passes through us. It bounces around, and either makes a home or passes on. Beliefs, judgments, experiences, attitudes, states of mine. There is an essence inside each one of us, and we spend a lifetime trying to figure out how to express that essence and give it a voice.
That's the creative process, right there. We do it unconsciously, and you don't have to be a painter or writer to call it what it is.
Are you human?
Then you create.
That's literally what we do for a living. We were given a spark of life, and then we were tossed out into a wilderness and told: “Go on. Survive, live, and thrive. I dare you.”
Somewhere in the middle of getting my degree in art I realized that “art” wasn't the actual product I ended up with. It wasn't the painting, it wasn't the poem. There's that quote by Leonardo da Vinci that I love: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” The painting? That's just a byproduct of art. The art itself is the process, just like the yoga is the practice. The art is in the mistakes, the attempts, the questions, the breakdowns, the breakthroughs.
We see this huge, expansive world filled with millions of interpretations. Only one of those millions is ours. It's easy, it's simple, and it's convenient to adopt one from someone else and enjoy life from that perspective. But art is never finished, only abandoned. So how many times to we abandon ourselves?
The creative spark is a slow burn that drives someone to continue looking, continue searching, because they are never quite satisfied. That little hint of yearning, that little ache. Let's go towards that, and make something beautiful together.