Being creative is like training a muscle. The more you work out at the gym, (hopefully) the more results you see and feel in your body — and what I love about creative acts is there's always a tangible result. I paint; I write; I draw; there it is on the page. Sometimes I'm more self-critical and it gets tossed, but then I start over — I never ever just scrap something. One blog post turns into another and another and another, if need be. If I don't like the way an art piece turns out, I change my materials or step away and come back later. Laid out in front of me, it's always there. It makes me feel accomplished and productive, which I enjoy (sometimes a little too much).
I also believe that creativity is an act of intimacy and communication. Just yesterday Gretchen Rubin (author of such books as The Happiness Project and Better than Before) posted this quote on Facebook, and it rings so true for me:
"What the work of art looks like isn’t too important." — Sol LeWitt
I'm sure a lot of people disagree with that statement. We all judge books by their covers — literally and figuratively — in addition to paintings, clothing, even how a person presents him- or herself. But if you read my post on Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic, you probably know where I'm going with this: It's the creative act that is art, in and of itself.
Have you ever let yourself get lost in something as an adult like you used to as a child? Adult coloring books are popping up everywhere, because they foster this sort of creating-as-a-meditative-act mindset. It's all very "Hmm, I like the way this looks." Or "I should really add more color over here." When I'm creating, I'm not thinking about the laundry or the job or the kids. I'm enjoying the process, and I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome. I'm not ATTACHED to a particular outcome — again, very similar to the concept of non-attachment in Eastern faith traditions — and I often find that what comes out at the end looks nothing like I imagined. Yet, somehow, still perfect.
It's intimate and communicative, of course, because of how we bare our souls when engaging in creative acts. Especially, I would say, in today's social media–obsessed environment — it can be very easy, certainly when starting out, to wait for the likes and shares and comments and numbers. Definitely, the more personal a piece or a post, the more protective we are of it and the more trepidation we feel once it's released into the wild. What will people think? Will they think it stinks? Will they finally know what a loser I am? Will they never look at me the same way?
Every time we share a piece with someone or hit "publish" on a post, we reveal a little bit more of our true selves. Let's see...today I'm going to lift up this little corner over here...and maybe some day, if I'm feeling really brave, I'll show them a tiny speck of the dark spot over there. It's intimate. It's revealing. It's brave. And it's SO much fun.
Being creative in some way, shape or form is a great way to let loose if you feel stuck, stifled or uncertain anywhere else in life. You will have something to show for it when you're done. You will likely be surprised by the result. You might discover a new passion or talent; you might even start to feel like a kid again. Just be gentle and kind with yourself along the way, especially if you are considering sharing your work on any sort of open platform. But also remember this: There are no mistakes. Nothing ever has to be "finished." You can come back to it again and again. What it looks like isn't that important.
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Filed under: Chasing peace