If we’re all creative, how come so few of us think we create things? “I’m not a creative person,” we say, or, “I’m not very artsy.” For some, saying otherwise would be tantamount to admitting that they’re flakes or dreamers, artists not always enjoying the best reputation among grounded, well-adjusted, practical people. Artists are other people, not me.
Sometimes, artists are among our heroes. We are moved by their music or entertained by the roles they play on stage or in movies. We may hang their artwork on our walls. But arms-length is as close as we really want to get to them, knowing that to create their art in the first place they must surely be somewhat odd, or have messy personal lives, or be incapable of holding down a real job. We don’t want any of that rubbing off on us.
When I was a child, my own creativity was counted among the things you leave behind when you leave grade school, things like laziness and daydreaming and being the class clown. It turned out, of course, that these were the very traits that equipped me for writing books and performing songs, not to mention thinking big thoughts and preaching interesting sermons. Teachers sometimes enjoyed my classroom antics, sometimes not so much. But they all hoped I’d outgrow them.
Which is a shame, really. Because there is nothing in all the world as exhilarating as following an idea onto an open page or watching an image emerge on a fresh canvas. What starts as little more than a spark, given just a whiff of attention, quickly turns into an all-consuming fire, creating something utterly unique that the world has never seen before, and won’t, if we’re not faithful to it.
The sense of responsibility is similar to managing a major corporation, the focus is that of an air traffic controller, and the workload that of a mother of ten. It is daunting, yet it carries you along at the same time, filling you with the thrill of discovery and, when it’s done, the intoxicating flush of accomplishment.
There’s something else about creativity. Most artists, whatever their medium, would say that, when they create, it doesn’t feel like they’re doing it on their own. They feel, instead, that some great unseen force is working through them, that they are servants, not masters, that they are chosen vessels for the Universe itself. In other words, they don't feel like they're creators, but co-creators.
This experience is so tangible and so powerful that it is perhaps the reason normal people hold it at bay. It’s a fearful thing to stand so close to the fire. But isn’t this the very thing we all long for? To feel we are an integral part of the re-creation of the world, happening through us, right here, right now? Wouldn’t that feel like the life we’re all supposed to be living, creatives and “non-creatives” alike?
When I invited my friend Janet Handy back to the Mystic Cave, it was to explore this very thing, the connection between creativity and spirituality. She is a visual artist. I am a wordsmith. But we both feel it, that wind of the Spirit that picks us up and carries us off. We become preoccupied, we can’t sleep, we miss meals, and we find ourselves utterly in the thrall ... of creating. When that happens, we don't need any prodding. We need to do it.
So, whether or not we can say that everyone is creative, Jan and I would like to think they are. We’d like to think they just need a little encouragement to find their medium, which may be planting a garden or rebuilding a company, and to know that this is their unique contribution, that the world needs them to do it, and that nothing else is required of them apart from their willingness to enter into the creative process. After all, it’s not really about them. It’s about the Creator, creating through us.
To hear my conversation with Janet Handy please click the Play button below. To learn more, follow the Information button ("i") and scroll the page that comes up.