“Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.” –Brene Brown
I have songs I’ve been working on, books I’ve been writing, images I’ve been wrestling with, for over 20 years. I don’t mean to insinuate that that makes them high quality, not at all. What I mean to say is: it goes against everything I’ve ever thought or taught about creativity to have projects so… unfinished… in my stable.
And these are my dearest possessions.
What happened, in all of these cases, was that a feeling came to me, a kind of unspoken knowing, that challenged me to express it. I was like Luigi Pirandello, author of a play called Six Characters in Search of an Author. These living entities come to us because they need to be expressed, and have chosen to come through us because they know we will take up the challenge.
Sometimes you wonder why they pick you. I was receiving songs before I even learned how to play the guitar. I was receiving movies and didn’t even know how to write a screenplay. Sometimes you have to invent a whole new language, just to get these feelings down on paper. Is it a poem or a novel? You wrestle with the ideas, the form. You wrestle with your limitations. And you stretch to make space for them.
It gives you so much respect for artists, to know how hard it was to express that new thing, that amazing offshoot.
Now, you would think that once you’ve gotten the words written, the notes dictated, the brushstrokes painted, that this co-authored “creation” would be ready for the world. And that’s what I would have thought, too.
But sometimes these feelings seem to be pointing us towards something that is so far ahead of what our minds are capable of allowing, let alone expressing, that we actually have to wrestle – and lose – for years and years to grow enough to be able to give them proper expression. And here I wonder, perhaps everything I’ve thought about creativity as a job is starting to make way for something much bigger:
Creativity as a way of Having an Open Dialogue with the Universe.
Think about it. I might receive a song, learn the chords, write the whole thing down. Then I might play it for a few years. The song is a kind of question, maybe a longing, certainly a point of view. But then, as time goes by, it starts to become something else. Other choruses start appearing. New insights come, reviving the song and putting it back in my orbit for a few months, or years. Then I forget it. Then a few years later it comes back, with new urgency.
It’s like the feeling is using the song, or blog entry, or painting, to invite us into new dimensions, where the answer is always a little further ahead than where we’ve been before… and we are being guided, one insight at a time, into this new way of living, of seeing, of knowing.
In this new way of seeing creativity, we wonder if our own creations are really here for the others, or just for ourselves. Someone once asked Neil Young the secret to his songwriting success. He simply said, “I just play for myself. I play what sounds good to me.”
So maybe after all is said and done, we’ll say, “Creativity is the way I get to share my soul… with myself.”
And we will all marvel… when we see a message so beautiful, so simple, and so authentic, purifying us with its clarity.