Have you ever been asked what ten books you would take to a deserted island? I tend to compose answers to this even when not prompted—the joy of musing over well-loved treasures is, for me, a wellspring of pleasure. A more difficult question, however, is what would I take if it could only be one thing, book or otherwise. Well, the singular item that would get me through days of endless solitude and reverberating silence would be my creativity. But then again, that answer is redundant: humans are inherently creative. So a better response would be a ‘conscious creativity’—one that not only nurtures and supports me but my environment as well.
It is amazing how creative (unconsciously so) we all are. I sometimes get confused by this and silently judge certain people as dull and unimaginative. How wrong can I be? These supposedly ‘uninteresting’ folk are usually the most creative of all. Imagine the infinite (and creative) resources needed to protect oneself from a world that insists on invoking unique and individual responses? Dull, indeed!
I know of a man, for example, who is quite smart, an able teacher, good looking, fit and friendly but boring as all get-out. He responds to gentle teases or slightly abstract questions with blank stares and/or concrete repartee. He wants to join in—you can almost see his imagination muscles vibrating with an urge to express—but the barriers that keep him from doing so are far too great. How much unconscious creativity is continually expended by this man to keep life’s laughter and lightness at bay?
These barriers against life are generally built up over time. We learn from a young age how to protect ourselves from hurt and unpleasant surprises. Unfortunately, these walls can also end up guarding us against spontaneity and curious exploration. The irony is incredible: the use of creative resources to deny our creative response to life.
I also know of people who proclaim their creative ineptitude while performing wonders in bookkeeping; still others who are absolute geniuses at making others feel comfortable. And then there are the ones who say they have no time to be creative. They must cook, clean, go to work, take care of the kids, fund their retirement and go to the dentist all before they can sit down and be creative. All I can say to them is that even though I consider myself a creative person I don’t manifest enough creativity to be able to do what they do and still maintain my sanity.
Creativity knows no bounds: our artistically inventive cells cannot be held back… to do so is to deny our humanness. One could say then that creativity is another way of describing how we do life. The key is whether we are conscious to it.
The first step to being conscious to our creativity is to pat ourselves on the back and acknowledge how we managed to survive another day. Perhaps we might say: ‘Wow, I put up all these barriers today to stop people from talking to me… how creative.’ Or, ‘Look at how I managed to subvert my anger into working vast amounts of overtime… how imaginative.’ To be conscious of our creativity is to be honest and open at looking at how we are living our life. How, for example, we artfully arrange it so we don’t have to remember bad things, or deal with unpleasant situations. Imagine how creative a homeless and penniless drug addict is at not only feeding him or herself, however poorly, but at getting a steady supply of drugs. I know that is an extreme example but acknowledging one’s strengths is a good way of getting back on our feet. Once we do that we can start opening ourselves, if we choose, to consciously using our creativity in more nurturing ways.
Of course, one could also say: how creative, I managed to shoplift from three stores today, or hurt several people without them knowing. Creativity, as I said above, knows no bounds. Conscious creativity, on the other hand, does: it doesn’t hurt or diminish but enhances our humanity and our ‘interconnectedness’ while helping us feel glad to be alive to experience another day.
How have you been consciously creative today?
Jo-Ann Svensson teaches ‘Creative Codependence’ and is a BodyMind Practitioner.