Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it…Chinese Proverb
We create our lives. Most of us have heard that a million times – so many times that it almost sounds trite.
How can that be? If I have a crap life, is that my own fault? Why would I create a crappy existence? Reasonable questions, I think.
But the answer is pretty simple, if not profound. It is in our awareness, our perception. It is in our energy that we put out. It is in how we see the world.
Creativity has been my 2015 intention, along with explore and expansiveness, and so I’ve been reading about creativity these past few months and I have learned that creativity is so much more that a work of art… creativity has many faces, not the least of which is creation. Creation.
Creation of one’s life. We are all co-creators whether we buy into this, or not.
Our attitude and our energy makes all the difference. An open, curious mind will more easily accept and not judge events so harshly, and an open, curious mind will explore the more difficult, challenging times – delve into the pain and look for answers and meaning. An open and curious mind will not accept that one is a victim of circumstances.
Our attitudes and perceptions colour our lives – one can either look at the harshness and starkest of life’s events, or soften the hard edges. Our daily choices of how we encounter life is the part we play as co-creator.
What I am discovering (aha! my intention to explore) is that each and every one of us is creative – it’s in our DNA – and it’s our creativity that defines us and makes us who we are. And the funny thing is that the more we become aware of our own unique creativity within, the more it grows and expands. (Aha! my intention expansiveness.)
Our awareness of our own personal creativity leads to more creativity, more growth, more expansiveness and that attracts more, more, more. We begin to grow into the person that we were always meant to be, and we begin to realize that our potential is unlimited. Or, as Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
But it begins with awareness. First, awareness of your own gifts. And then in awareness of others. You begin to see the creativity (and gifts) that are in others. And that can lead to acceptance and non-judgment of others. (And in my book, that’s always a good thing.)
I have been reading a number of books on creativity, written by creative people. Some are artists such as Nick Bantock who wrote The Trickster’s Hat; others are writers: Julie Cameron, The Artist’s Way, The Prosperous Heart, Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, Vinita Hampton Wright, The Soul Tells a Story Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life, Jonah Lehrer, Imagine. I read Twyla Tharp’s, choreographer/dancer’s book, The Creative Habit – lots of insights from her! And I still have an unfinished, to-read book list. The subject of creativity is prolific!
What I have discovered is that creativity is our own personal portal to our authentic self. But it all begins with recognition or awareness. What are my strengths and weaknesses; my talents and skills; what am I most passionate about; what are my interests and non-interests? How do I see the world?
l. Mindfulness – pay attention
2. Awareness leads to recognition
3. Discovery: the aha moment
Creativity is your own personal slant or take-away of what you have focused on. (You have turned the spotlight on something…now, what did you notice? What did you discover?) Our personal slant is our self-expression. The act of creation is in the aha! moment – it’s in the discovery. And, it is in that very moment we are truly authentic.
When I see a wild and untended garden, I see nature at her very best. She (nature) has sprawled out because that is what Nature does…she takes back the controlled landscape as if she is proclaiming this is mine and see me grow! When I see the spent blossoms of the cone flowers or rudbeckias, I see seeds (life!) and the return of birds, bees, insects; I see beauty in the untamed chaos. Someone else might only see the neglect and the waste.
I didn’t always see a messy garden as beautiful chaos. I had to spend many hours in my own garden observing the errant anemones growing in odd places or watching the “thugs” of the plant world bully their way into ordered pathways before I became aware that the mistakes in Nature were not mistakes at all. In truth, some of my favourite spots in the garden are now areas where havoc reigns. But, the hummingbirds visit those spots; the bumblebees and the fire flies are frequent visitors; yellow finches and butterflies, too. I trust these uninvited, but welcome guests! If they favour those unplanned areas in my garden, then I think I’m onto something! I see my garden with a new perspective now and I am enjoying it oh, so much more. I have let go of my need for order and plans. And that is my point…we need to let go of order and control to allow beauty in.
Every author of a how-to-be-more-creative book encourages us to be more open, to clear our cluttered minds, to open and change our old perceptions and misconceptions. An open and uncluttered mind accepts new ideas because it is more spacious. And new thoughts, new perceptions, and new ideas require space to grow and flourish. New thoughts, novel ideas, new perceptions…this is creativity!
There is a funny scene in a television series Corner Gas that was very popular here in Canada, in which Brent and Hank are talking. When Brent tells something to Hank, suddenly Hank is seeing an image in his head…the audience sees a truck in a warehouse and it is loaded with filing boxes. The truck begins to reverse. The audience realizes the warehouse is Hank’s brain and the filing boxes are the boxes of stuff (useless knowledge) that is going to the waste. Hank tells Brent that he has no room for any more information.
I love that scene because I think our brains can become like warehouses full of useless stuff and that sometimes we have to let go of the old to make room for the new. (The old stuff in our brains no longer serves us.) I think the metaphor is clever and apt.
We are able to clear out junk in the brains when we practice mindfulness and awareness. Some of us meditate; others sit in stillness. The important thing is to allow ourselves time to do nothing; time to rest our brains.
Jonah Lehrer, Imagine – How Creativity Works, explains it in his book: “Why is a relaxed state of mind so important for creative insights? When our brains are at ease – when those alpha waves are rippling through the brain – we’re more likely to direct the spotlight of attention inward, toward that stream of remote associations emanating from the right hemisphere. When we become quiet or still, we begin to listen to the quiet voices.”
Ed Catmull (Pixar Animation and Disney Animation) in his book Creativity, Inc. uses mindfulness (and meditation) as another tool in helping him manage and encourage creativity in his staff. He reminds us that in mindfulness, we clear our minds and we let go of control and resistance. Control and resistance are the antithesis of creativity!
For me, letting go of resistance and control is in understanding that life has a flow and when I am aligned with that flow, I am happier, more content, at peace and more creative. I am aware that what is, is.
In all its forms, creativity lives within us and each of us in recognizing our gifts – that is our strengths, our passions, our talents – in essence, by paying attention to them – we begin to be grateful for them. That gratitude expands them. When we truly accept (in awareness) our gifts, we begin to enjoy and share them with others – and that is the true purpose of gifts. What we do with our gifts or creativity is what matters. It makes me, “me,” and you, “you.” How we live our lives reflects our creativity because creativity is in the creating…of our own life.