I feels as though this is the most obvious thing I can say – and yet, letting this essay soak in (even as I write it) in has made me feel renewed in a way that gives me peace & purpose, and I hope will do the same for you.
As sure as there is passion in the creative process there is also something else, something that feels unwelcome and limiting (especially in contrast to the excitement of creativity). Humanity. It’s limitations hold tightly to the hands of the hardworking, making it’s weight known in every area of life, but especially in the creative process.
The force of inspiration within me wants to give and give without end; to be overwhelmed with creativity, washed with love for the process, the idea; but soon, I find that I have created a thing that is bigger than myself, something that lives outside of my limitations – and my limitations then become painfully clear.
Humanity is hard to live with – hard to create within. But you know what? Being a human is beautiful. It’s messy and complex. It means that I get to love other humans and do amazing things within the confines of my flesh and bones.
Sustainable creativity is being aware of your limits yet intentionally fostering that powerful passion within their walls. With time, you become familiar with their edges, their joys and hostilities, and you begin to exist quite well within them, growing creatively and as a person despite (or maybe because of) them.
I am in this phase now. My creative process is so life-giving and familiar to me and I wish I could pursue it without end, but, my humanity feels very intimate as well and I am learning to respect it and to better work within it’s limits.
This year I chose the word “freedom” as a mantra to carry inside my heart through the thousand choices I make each day. Freedom is beautiful to me because it does not mean I can do whatever I want but it does mean that I can say NO to things that feel like bondage – things that will unnecessarily test the strength of my walls by their very nature.
I picture my physical & creative energy like a room. One wall is inspiration & ideas, another is time, the third represents my physical needs (hunger, tireless, strain…), and the fourth holds all needs outside of myself (family, money, society…).
I can only create a sustainable career as an artist if I am centered in the middle of all these needs, working in harmony with & inside of them.
In my imagination, the “middle of my room” is one of those thriving indoor courtyard gardens found in homes along the Mediterranean. The home is literally built around an opening in the roof allowing trees and flowers to grow in the very heart of it. The rain pours in, the sun shines, and the home is refreshed and cleaned by the beauty of the garden.
The garden can be as fertile and lush as you make it – that’s up to you – but the space for you to create is there (one seedling, one stolen moment, at a time)
This is my sweet-spot. It is where I need to create. This “garden” is my freedom within the walls of my life.
It is hard to say “no” but it is even harder to find yourself worn thin, cracked, and overspent on things that may not have been worth it anyways. When I think of it that way, “no” feels like the most generous word I can say. I can literally feel it breathing life and refreshment into my mind. And you know what happens with a refreshed mind, right? Creativity.
I’m hoping to share, in more detail, some of the ways I am trying to implement this mindset into my life and creative process over the next few days or weeks (I’m not one for scheduling things…) 😉
In the meantime, I hope these words refreshed someone. Know that you are in the right place, that you can cultivate the life you want to live within the mess and irregularity of your life, that small things are huge, and that claiming some space in my heart and mind for quiet creativity is so deeply valuable.
Please share this post with a friend you think may need these words.