Through years of creative exploration, study and play, I have come to the firm conclusion that everyone benefits from having a means of creative expression in their life. We are a creative species and have been since we first appeared on the earth. There is ample evidence that creativity was a part of ordinary life for our ancestors. We can look at the beautiful, functional objects made by our forebears – baskets, quilts, pottery, masks, carved wooden objects, woven blankets – the list could go on for pages!
In aboriginal societies, everyone sings. Everyone dances. Everyone makes things. Creativity is not an endeavor separated out of everyday life, with creative activity being carried out by a select few. On the contrary, it is intimately interwoven with philosophy, education, economics, and social structures. The “arts” are integrated into the whole of culture and community. They serve as a means for building on and focusing the collective energy and wisdom of the people.
We have lost touch with our creative birthright in our modern industrial world, and we are the poorer as people for the loss. We have allowed “experts” and academics to convince us that creativity is the exclusive domain of a special and unusually gifted few and that the rest of us need to leave creative pursuits to the “artists”, to those who have the proven talent to deliver perfection – or at least something close to it – in the service of their art.
We unthinkingly let someone else decide for us what is worthy of our attention. Advertisers are frequently the deciding factors in what we watch, what we read, what we listen to, what we buy to adorn our homes or our bodies, the events and activities we participate in. They tell us what is cool, what is hip, what Is “art”, and we passively consume the mediocre, mass-produced artifacts of someone else, rather than create for ourselves. We fail to tell our own stories, sing our own songs, paint our own pictures, or dance to our own drum.
Creativity Is Your Birthright
It’s time we stop letting the guardians of Art silence our creative voices – even if we sing off key! We have a right to join in the dance of life, even if we miss a few steps now and again or our timing is slightly off. If it is an authentic expression of our heart, who cares if our poetry is at the level of Shakespeare? We spend too many years under the thumb of “not good enough” and our lives suffer as a result. There are reasons for engaging in your own creative life that have nothing to do with performing for an audience, getting published, or being hung in a museum (come to think of it, that last one sounds sinister sound anyway!).
Do yourself and your community a favor – dabble a bit. Engage in some creative exploration until you find something you love, something that allows you to express your inner joy, something that feeds your inner fire! Find some other people who love to do that same thing and come together to do it. Start an amateur improv troupe, an old-fashioned quilting bee, a barbershop quartet. Participate in a poetry slam, National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org), or a film festival. Just have some fun and experience your own creativity and aliveness! As you do, please share what you’re doing here! I’d love to read about it!