by Shelley Berc
Boomer Girl Magazine
We are all born creative, it is a fact of human nature. Anyone who has watched a child absorbed in her make-believe world can see that. But the curiosity and imagination so evident in our child selves often fades with the passage of time.
Society doesn’t give adults much support for being creative, unless you make a lot of money at it. Why not? Think of how different our world would be if people were encouraged to think innovatively, take risks, absorb and express beauty, pain, and wonder. Children do all those things naturally through play. When a society loses its creativity, destruction sets in all too easily.
How do we get our creativity ‘instinct’ back or if we haven’t lost it, how do we keep it vital and alive? These are the questions and some of the answers we will explore in this blog. We will frequently refer to the arts in this foray into our creative selves, but only because they provide us with some of the more obvious examples of creative process and expression. We can apply the tools of inspiration that artists invoke to any creative endeavor, be it gardening or transforming our lives. Art is a by-product of creative expression, not it’s be all and end all. The beginnings of any painting or new scientific discovery lie in the process of the creative journey, which is exactly what we are going to consider here.
Over the next weeks we will look at creativity in terms of inspiration, beauty, playfulness, focus, space, and time. We will challenge the things that block our creativity – inner and outer critics, concepts about ‘not wasting time’, the mantra that we are not creative so we shouldn’t even bother to express that part of ourselves. I hope there will be a lot of discussion from our readers as to what creativity means in their lives and how they access it in their everyday endeavors or how it has been thwarted. Creativity thrives when it is encouraged and valued. I hope this blog can provide a bit of that nurture and that the discussions that ensue will help readers find other like-minded souls to share their ideas and imagination.
It is extremely hard to unleash our creativity when we are busy all the time. Today we are going to look at time and find ways to free up enough of it to get and stay creative in our busy, multi-taskful lives.
We may not be able to free up much actual clock time, but with playful attentiveness we can stretch the time we have to seem fuller and deeper. This is what I call creative time. We can use our imaginations to trick time into slowing down so we can see, touch, and taste the every day world in ways that bring back its magical essence.
Not many people have the luxury to spend hours painting a landscape or sitting in a café, finding characters to populate their next novel. We live in a world where the majority of our time is not our own. It belongs to our jobs, our families, and our fears that we are wasting our time by not being clearly and immediately productive. What if we took just 20 minutes a day to exercise our creativity? Let’s start by relaxing and doing absolutely nothing.
To be creative, one has to be a little bit lazy! The Creative Muse loves staring into space over a cup of coffee or walking aimlessly in a fragrant garden. It loves taking long showers and playing pointless games. It loves to lounge – that’s how it gets its work done! But contrary to popular belief, to be creative doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be your focus all day long. With that attitude, even the most productive artist would give up. Taking time for 20 minutes of creative exploration each day can bring our imaginations alive and keep them inspired while we go about the rest of our lives. That’s right, creativity is a hardy plant, but it does need its daily watering.
Twenty minutes a day – surely we can find time for that – especially when it means feeding the unspoken longings of our soul. For it is the soul that suffers most when we don’t let ourselves create. Our soul needs to have play-time in the world of pretend, which is a deeply focused and meditative place. Creativity and play clear our beings and give us energy to live. Twenty minutes a day of writing whatever comes to your mind, or drawing the vase of flowers that sits forgotten on the window sill, or turning up the music and dancing your heart out. When creative expression is accessed every day even for the shortest periods of time, it becomes stronger and more resilient, just like any muscle. The creativity muscle nurtures the most sensitive qualities of our human nature. It stimulates our ability to see with body, mind and soul the gorgeous nuances of life–whether it be the many subtle shades of water in the sea, or what our neighbor is really feeling when she says ‘have a nice day.’ Creativity is our internal piano tuner, adjusting us key by key for optimal perception. It reminds us what an amazing world we live in, by putting sight, sound, touch, and even taste at the forefront of consciousness.
Take a stroll around your neighborhood and have a good look around you. Slow time down with your gaze and watch an animal move, or zoom in on the front doors of the houses you pass. Or sit in a window at work or home and actively see what is there for five minutes? Write down every bit of it – every sound and sight and each reaction you have to what you are perceiving. The very act of recording what your senses ‘see’ makes you more open to what is around you.
I am sitting cross-legged in an easy chair with a snoring cat curled in my lap. I feel the soft warmth of a mohair sweater against my skin and the silky ripple of his fur as he stretches against my body. My sweater is green, so are his eyes. He is looking out the window and I wonder what he is seeing. I imagine him chasing a blue jay in the yard and surveying the landscape for more birds to run after. Suddenly I discover myself seeing through the eyes of my cat. Haven’t we all had that experience of imagining ourselves in another’s shoes? In a split second of reverie, we catapult ourselves into the world of imagination, where we can become a cat or re-invent our lives. It is a practice that only takes a few minutes a day. And over time those minutes add up to a different and exciting way of seeing, expressing, and transforming our lives.