My brother recently shared with me this wonderful TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert – author of bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love. I loved her book and was so moved by this talk that I had to share.
This got my mind wandering on the topic of nurturing creativity and what sorts of things get in the way for me from time to time…
I cannot imagine the tremendous and daunting task of continuing to do work after having a bestselling novel out in the world. But I can certainly relate to the frustration of trying to figure out just what to do with that creative energy. I skip around from one thing to the next so often – one day its photography, the next it’s welding, or needle felting or wire art or design or illustration or cooking sumptuous new recipes. It’s very fun and satisfying, but for the past year I’ve been a bit haunted by the notion that I am just flitting about – touching the surfaces of many things but not really diving into any of them deeply. My logical self doesn’t see anything wrong with that. But there seems to be some old messages playing in me that tell me otherwise.
We are taught to go to school to become an expert at something and then do it until we can’t anymore. Sorry, but I don’t love any one thing that much. Sure I have a career as a graphic designer, and yes I am darn good at it and I do enjoy it. But it’s not my life’s work nor my greatest love by any means.
What if I just want to be an expert at experiencing many things?
So, I sometimes find myself building up this impossible ideal in my mind where I MUST succeed at ONE thing.. as an artist and creative person, because of some sort of talent I was born with. I’m sure anyone out there who’s had some kind of talent since they were a child has heard many a times the old line.. “when you’re famous I can say I knew you back when!” Although they mean well, for a child, that can create such an immense weight to be somebody. And such a pressure to find your niche and really dive into it and be an expert at it. I’m not sure how other creatives have dealt with that idea – some seem to embrace the idea of doing many things very openly. Others seem to find their niche and just pour themselves into it.. which is wonderful. But what if you are someone who doesn’t have a niche?
It’s true, I don’t love any one thing enough to totally commit my life to it. And I am slowly becoming more comfortable with that as I explore my creativity. What if – at least for the time being – I don’t want to pick ONE thing? What if the thing that I want to be an expert at is experiencing many things? Well, I’m deciding this is a wonderful thing. We need specialists just like we need generalist in the world, after all.
I think my Muse is a Bimbo
I like the old Greek/Roman philosophy Elizabeth is speaking of in this TED talk. I like it a lot. This idea that our creative spirit comes not from within us, but from some divine precious thing that stops by for tea from time to time. It sure takes the pressure off or trying to force it into existence or bottle it into one area of expertise. Perhaps my divine muse just gets bored quickly. Or maybe she’s a bit of a bimbo (that would explain a lot!) and just likes to flit about and play in many different pools of creativity… and just maybe, its not my job to try and stop her from doing that. Maybe it’s my job to always be open to whatever new creative adventure she would like to take me on. Maybe that is all we are ever really supposed do with that creative energy when it arrives – just open the door and invite it in for tea.
How do you nurture your creativity?
What things get in your way of opening up to that creative spirit?
How did Elizabeth’s talk resonate with you? I am curious to know what you have to say.
Quickly! I must post this NOW because my ditsy creative muse just got distracted by a flower in Timbuktu and ran off and I can feel the self doubt about this post quietly tiptoeing back into my mind! lol – oh to be human! ;)