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Wednesday
Jan072009

What happens when you stifle creativity?

"Every day we slaughter our finest impulses.  That is why we get a heartache when we read the lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty.  Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths."  -Henry Miller

We are all creative individuals.  You may not think of yourself as such, but it is true!  Whether it's deciding what pair of shoes to wear today - or deciding how to cook your eggs in the morning - all of our lives are speckled with moments of creativity - moments when YOU decide what tastes, looks, smells, or feels good.  

Think about it like this - when we were six, we all were artists.  We all drew, painted, sang, danced, and created all manner of imaginary worlds in which to play.  Somewhere along the way, we began to quiet our unique voice - because we thought that there was something more sensible, adult, or productive that we could be doing with our time.  

What could possibly be more important than creating and expressing?  Isn't even our God called the Great Creator?  He hard-wired each of us to also have a longing and a desire to express our uniqueness in various ways.  This is what is your gift.  Perhaps it is fashion, or cooking, or making music - but, each of us have been "gifted" with something.  To not give that gift to the world is the ultimate selfish act.  Not one other person in all eternity will ever see the world the way you see it.  So, by all means - share!

Yet, an awful lot of people are suppressing their creativity.  Stifling that still, small voice - until it's barely audible. Perhaps you're able to appease that voice - by doodling while you're on the phone - or learning guitar cover songs for a spell.  That's like feeding a hungry child a diet consisting only of ramen noodles and water and expecting them to be happy and healthy.  It's not enough substance to holistically nurture and replenish. Neither are your lame attempts at doodling during that boring Sales Meeting.  No, we must first determine that we will re-introduce ourselves to that inner artist - and that daily, we will seek to see things through that creative viewpoint.  And, what's more - we must commit to allowing that voice of ours a moment or two each day - to teach us something, to show us the gold and amber hues in the sunset - or the funny lilt in our best friends voice.  And, we must record it somehow.  In a journal, in a letter, on a canvas, in a song, through a new twist to an old recipe - but, we must feed our creative selves - or risk becoming crippled and shut down from the newness of the world.

Children see things through a fresh perspective.  They embrace newness - and are unafraid to try and draw anything at all.  Ask a child, who's young enough to still have their artist intact, and they'll draw dinosaurs and helicopters and all sorts of things that as adults we say are "too hard" to draw.  

Who was it that told us that we aren't creative?  When was it that we began to believe that we didn't have anything of worth to say?  Why is it that it's easier to allow that inner artist to starve in the back corner of our minds - than it is to embrace and encourage creativity?

I assume it came along with the stereotypes that we all learned about artists - as dreamers - unstable, lazy, poor, unproductive people.  And, we assume that if we keep our opinions to ourselves, we can avoid disappointing or shocking anyone.  But, deep inside - we still have that desire to create.  If only we had the time, money, support, education, tools, support, freedom - THEN we'd be creative.  But, alas, we choose to believe that isn't for us - so we lock that desire away-hoping that disregard will do the trick.  

When that inner artist begins to ache, we then reach for an anesthetic - TV, food, drinks, drugs, defensiveness, adoption of the mass culture - anything to deny who we truly are and to keep us out of touch with our own original selves - our true nature.  After all, THAT part of who we are tends to be unorthodox - outside of the box - and we can't have any of that now, can we?

I say we can.  I say it's time to embrace that crippled creative child in the corner - and listen to what her raspy whisper has to tell me.  In time, she will be stronger - and as I re-open my mind and my eyes to the beauties of the world around me - she will be fulfilled.  

Creativity isn't just making things - it is to see and feel the world so purposefully that you can put together patterns that help to explain reality to the rest of the world.  It means to be fully present and alive - in the moment - and to recognize and celebrate the beauty all around us.

This year, I've decided that my eyes will be opened - and that my creativity will be nursed back to health.  No longer will I stifle the longing to write - or paint - or draw - or act.  My plan?  To set an appointment with myself for each day - which I will honor in the same way that I honor a Doctors Appointment or a Sales Meeting.  But, to make sure that it's done in the spirit of childlike wonder - I'm declaring this time "Recess".

That's right - each day, I'm setting aside 30 minutes to an hour for my very own recess.  In that time (which will be spent alone) - I will dance, or sing, or draw, or quiet my mind and explore to the recesses (corners) of my brain.  I'll begin recording these experiences and my musings in song or story - some of which I will share right here!

I hope you'll do the same - give yourself Recess each day- and that you'll share more of what you find back here, in the comments, with the rest of us.

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."  - George Eliot

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Reader Comments (4)

I really enjoyed this. And by coincidence, I have been pondering whether I have been feeding my creativity enough. This year, as part of my resolutions, I put goals down on paper to do just that. I agree too many of us stifle that uniqueness that can be expressed in a multitude of ways.

Thanks for sharing lady! I'm very much enjoying your new blog!

January 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMisty Sharkey

Yay for creativity! I think a list is a great way to get started - in fact - you've inspired me to write a new list of my own!

Thanks, Misty!

January 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterHillary Banks

I totally have to agree with this and thank you so much for writing about how important it is to be creative. If we could all go back to being six again and do those fun things we loved, I think this world would be a better (and happier) place! Like Misty, as part of my new years resolutions, I have included several goals to increase my creativity... making jewelry, building my photography business, and even painting and writing in my journal more... I think anything that expands your normal day to day activities into something more fun and exciting is very therapeutic. Expand your minds and be a kid again! Life is too short to not enjoy it and have fun with it!

I can't wait to keep up with your blog postings, Hill. You know I love our intellectual thoughts and deep conversations.... And to share them with everyone is just inspirational! Kudos honey!

~Jess

January 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Schmidt

I'm so glad you're posting, here - Jess. I hope you do come back! We always share in this sort of dialogue, and so do my other friends here at the site - you're one of my girlfriends who i know personally practices "recess" in her daily life - at the gym! And, I know how you've seen that add so much joy to your own life.

January 22, 2009 | Registered CommenterHillary Banks

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