Creativity used to be a word I would use to describe extracurricular activities. Something to do when you were bored, or felt like mixing things up. Today, creativity is a non negotiable in my life.
It can take on many forms. It may look like brainstorming as many wild ideas for a fictitious business. It may be reimagining a new way to cook an old recipe. But most recently, it has taken the form of making art with my hands. Getting back to basics with raw materials and just creating for the sake of it.
The other day I found myself looking up from my desk in the co-work space I work out of. Busyness surrounded me. People ‘getting their hustle on’ - meetings, phone calls, tap tap tapping on laptops. What was everyone doing? “Am I doing enough?” I thought to myself, feeling the knot of anxiety rising in my stomach. I’m so tired. So tired of pushing and doing. I just want to be. Is that ok?
And so, in a desperate attempt to shake off the icky feeling of comparison, self judgment, worry, doubt...you name it, I pulled out my new favorite coffee table book and started flipping through the pages. Dozens of fabulous DIY art projects stared back at me. “What would it feel like to create one of those?”, I wondered. I instantly remembered the joy the book had brought me just purchasing it and imagining all the artistic possibilities. But life had taken over and the book had remained tightly closed, collecting dust on the coffee table for months.
I flipped to the page that had intrigued me most and I quickly made a checklist of materials I would need. I could already feel a renewed sense of joy spreading throughout my body. I was getting caught up in the rapturous act of creating and it felt amazing.
"I feel like I’m gaining life."
As I settled into the art project (a tissue paper mosaic rug - thousands of tiny pieces of tissue paper scrunched and glued on) my conscious mind remained occupied with the task, giving my unconscious mind time to wander and wonder. Why does this feel so good? I’m not building my brand. I’m not building my business. And yet I don’t feel like I’m wasting time. (A common misconception about creating that I used to believe). I feel like I’m gaining life. Like my life force is coming back to me. I feel more energized and creative about everything.
As the hours ticked by and the art project continued, fatigue started to settled in. “Ah, this is where I usually give up on tasks like this”, I observed. “This is the part where I wonder why I’m bothering. What will this ‘get me’? I hope I can frame this. I hope I can do something with this.”
I witnessed the patterns of my own mind, perhaps the mind of many of us, that says what we create must be useful. Productive. Profitable.
"We make stuff so that we can return back to who we really are. Creative beings."
Suddenly this art project was far more than just a Sunday activity to take my mind off things. It was a pathway into my own psyche. To start to rewire an outdated model of success. A social narrative that says doing more is the only way to get more.
Making art taught me that being more - being in flow and in unbridled play and surrender to the process brings the very thing we were looking for in the first place.
I cursed myself for having relegated creative activities like this for the rainy day that never comes. A to-do list that never ends, and ‘high priority’ activities that always seemed to take precedence over fruitless tasks like making a mosaic tissue paper rug that may end up in the trash. But that is the very point of it all! We make stuff so that we can return back to who we really are. Creative beings. It is that renewed energy that gives us energy to create anything in our lives. And the brilliant thing is that is comes from within us. I didn’t need to get inspired from reading someone else's instagram post, or listening to a motivation podcast.
This past rainy weekend (my literal rainy day!) I learned that we are our greatest source of inspiration. We just have to be willing to begin.
Originally published on VAWAA