Monday, 25 January 2016

In the Beginning.

I once had an animated debate with a friend of mine about what creativity was; about what it means for someone or something to be creative.

My friend had lots of opinions about what qualified as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ creativity, dubbing large swathes of creative work in the world as “fictional dalliances”. He appreciated artistic work, absolutely, but there was a distinct intellectual curbing in his language of anything less that so-called great art. I didn’t hide the fact that I disagreed with him, but I remember finding it extremely difficult to reply. 

I knew what I believed about creativity; however, I attempted to share this in a way that sounded intellectual (and as minimally esoteric, radical or crazy as possible). Subsequently, creativity would not reveal its definition to me. You see, in trying to rationalize creativity –an expansive, of-the-heart magic of sorts- it had decided in response to give me a certain pop-art finger and a cartoonish, wagging tongue for my spinelessness; if my friend received any of my real truth that day, he received it in dribs and drabs. 

However, 2015 was a year that nudged, slapped, hugged, kissed, revolutionized and dragged me kicking and screaming to the conclusion that I need to cultivate more boldness in my life. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage,” says Anais Nin. I’ve had many experiences last year that showed me exactly this. Where I leaned in, shifted closer and was perhaps a bit outrageous, I helped create moments that still give me goose-bumps. However, where I held back and faced the corner of the room, life could not meet me when I did not meet it. Therefore, this new year I wish to water what shrank by my hesitance, to widen my flower beds and nurture my life with an intention of fearlessness.

So if I’m letting go all the reasons and fears that held me back that day in discussion with my friend, then I will tell you that I believe –know- creativity is pure essential electricity; it is “the natural order of life,” as Julia Cameron (my creative angel mother) says. It is life force; it is art; it is ideas; it is nourishment, growth, truth. It is us tapping into essence, our true, inventive Selves, higher planes of consciousness.

Creativity infuses our lives with myriad opportunities to look into our souls. It helps us put our finger on that which we haven’t been able to articulate or understand of ourselves. It’s a three line poem on a napkin that tells us we need to start flamenco dancing, the thing we’ve secretly always wanted to try out. Art points the way towards that which excites and fulfils us. However, it doesn’t just investigate the good stuff. It looks hard at the dark stuff too. The shame, pain, trauma, bad habits and shadows; our lack of self-care, our desperateness, our self-willed dullness, our raging egos. Think of Frida, the surrealists and movies like Good Will Hunting.

"The Messenger" -Carrie Hilgert, Artist
Creativity is a beautiful, handmade kite that we fly on sun-filled days, gliding it amidst the dancing wind spirits. However, it is also a flashlight and bright yellow rain jacket for our storms (internal and external). Creativity helps us venture into them, come back out and then paint a big canvas full of murky, harrowing colours that brings us both alarm and relief. We’ll then hang it in our kitchen and when it gives our guests a fright, we’ll shrug and say, “Art, man.”

Creativity is also one of the purest expressions of love there is. Why are we still discovering collections of letters and poetry written by lovers during the world wars? Why does Sark write all her books in bold crayon and watercolor? Why just recently have I, the quintessential straight-backed ballerina, just started belly dancing? We are all extending out our love. Love to our beloveds, love to our inner-artists, love to our wildness and our bodies. As I see it, creativity is devotion. 

Furthermore, despite what the dried up, mind-centred people of our planet would argue, art always serves. There is always someone who gets something out of a piece of creativity, even if it is only the artist him/herself. In that case, all art is worthy of being created. Even bad art. Artists have to make bad art. I had two blogs before this one and they’re filled with bad art. What bad art is though is trying. All masters have icky, awkward phases. Joshua Bell screeched on his violin for years when he first started playing; however, thanks to his perseverance, I had the pleasure last year of watching him perform the full, magnificent Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

This brings me to the business of my new, beloved blog.

I have called it Stay Awake My Heart. This comes out of a poem written by Rumi, one of the most exquisite creatives ever to grace our world. And practically my favourite poet (don’t tell Hafiz).

“Love has come to rule and transform; Stay awake my heart, stay awake,” he writes.

There is so much turmoil on this earth right now. So many old wounds are being opened up, so many old angers being processed, exploding, spewing. However, where before many would place clamps on their hearts and retreat, I believe the time has come where we will be ready to meet whatever comes with graceful willingness and forgiveness. Many have already embarked on this path, and I believe more will follow. 

I don’t know how to end wars, terrorism, dullness, depression and all the things the human kind needs to work on. What I do know is that creativity and the bone-deep introspection that comes along with it can help us. Make us more conscious, mindful, alive. More juicy and innovative. In our transition to a more heart-centred world, and away from a fear-centred one, art is our friend –and that is what this blog is about. 

Creativity, celebrating creativity and figuring out how I –and we- can go about our precious, singular lives a little more from the heart.

Until next we meet, dear readers.

Love and light

P.S. Thank you to Leonid Afremov for his awesome palette knife oil painting, “Freshness of Cold”, that is now my lovely blog background. Check out some of his paintings here. #paletteknifelove!
P.P.S. Just a heads up that my blog design might change in the next couple of weeks. I’m still tweaking and playing around with my design to make it as beautiful and easy-to-use as possible. Also, in the process I’m slowly becoming a coding wiz.

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