How’s this for a book title: Losing Teeth, Saving Face: Conquering Dental Anxiety
Or this one: Clothing Naked Emperors: Surviving Middle Management
Stuff like this comes to me unbidden, usually while I’m driving, and it’s neither practical nor safe to write it down, steering with one knee while I look for a pen. But when I reach wherever it is I’m going, I do jot a few into a small flip-pad I keep in the console between the front seats, or better yet, I record them on my phone. Gotta love those little computers in our pockets.
At home, I have as many blank journals as filled ones. I suppose I collect them, but not as bookshelf decorations. I really do want to write in them. Someday. For now, they hold a place of prominent promise on my book shelves, and give me encouragement daily. Not even the vitamins I take can do that.
I cherish how my life is filled with opportunities to create something that hasn’t existed before. And I think it’s wonderfully reckless to imagine giving into every creative impulse as it comes, to the exclusion of work, food, and almost bathing (this would be a difficult one to ignore—I love how I feel after a shower). But alas, I park most ideas in a secure mental holding pen until that elusive “later” comes along, and then spend at least an hour looking for them. Is this what it’s like to live an artist’s life? Geez, I hope not. But if it is, I suppose I’ll put on my big girl smock and get on with it. Life is too short NOT to create, and lately, I’m feeling my purpose is to help folks—myself included—rescue the word “creativity” itself from the narrow realm of arts and crafts.
I facilitate conversations about creativity, and when I ask people if they consider themselves creative, there’s a reluctance in the room that makes it necessary for the discussion to move forward toward reassurance. It’s not whether we’re creative, but how. And boy, do I mean HOW!
Being creative looks like this:
Planning your day. Making breakfast (or lunch, or any meal). Finishing the question “what if…?” Replacing the not-so-jazzy black buttons on a chunky warm sweater with really cool hand-made ceramic ones you found at a local shop on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Writing a tender expression of gratitude in response to someone else’s tender expression of sympathy. Rearranging your living room because you were just bored with the recliner always being by the door to the kitchen. Working with your accountant to prepare your taxes. Looking on Pinterest for photos of Thanksgiving table decor ideas, and then deciding to keep it simpler than that. Making your first quilt or your fiftieth one. Turning a Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix box into a handmade journal. And selecting what color nail polish you want to see on your toes for the next couple of weeks. I think you see where this is going.
I’m certainly not the first and only person out there proposing a wider interpretation of the word and the concept. I’m happy nonetheless to join their cheerful chorus and add more chairs at the table of inclusion where creativity is concerned. And I sit patiently, in love, while the reluctant among us push away whatever is holding them back from claiming their divine birthright, whether it’s shame, or incessant comparison to others, or fatigue.
You see, dear ones, our relationships with others need us to own our creativity. So do our workplaces, our brief and important transactions with bankers and healthcare providers and the person ringing up our groceries, and the discussions at our town hall meetings. Thankfully, creativity doesn’t require a rigid time frame or supplies (like paints and yarn). It’s ready-to-hand in our words, our inner posture of compassion, and our incredible brains. For me, the challenge is more about sorting all that out and not becoming too overwhelmed at the depth and breadth of choice that I live in each moment. I can handle that, though. Bring it.
The compelling urge to do, or be, or bring something into existence is powerful, bubbling expectantly deep within us and also close to the surface. It’s once again reckless, and now also liberating, to let ourselves be carried away by creativity’s capable, enduring flow. Will you let go? Will do allow yourself to own what’s already yours?
Meanwhile, other book titles I’ve played with:
Leave the Titanic Where It Is: Getting Past Your Family’s Dysfunction
Underachievement As a Self-care Strategy
Couldn’t We All Just Live on Chocolate?
Figuring Out the Real Point of Groundhogs
Waking Up Laughing: Life With Patrick
What could those stories look like? What if I picked just one today, and started writing? Where would I end up?
Somewhere fun, I know. Come with me?