I am reading “Women Who Run With Wolves” by Clarissa Estes, which has poured out more woman wisdom than any book I’ve ever read. At this point I have written many times about the odd, magical and challenging entity that is creativity. I am fascinated, intimidated and illuminated by it. And it is also in a way an old and new friend. When I was little, I declared that I was going to be a fashion designer and designed up a storm. I made art, danced and played in nature. And then somewhere in the years from 5th-7th grade I sponged in from my culture that art and creativity weren’t valuable. They didn’t have any worth. They were indulgent. Creative types mostly didn’t amount to anything, were relegated to an odd ball, unproductive sector of society. Furthermore, you could only be a painter, a musician, a designer, an illustrator if you were naturally gifted like Beethoven or that dude in art class that the teacher was always fawning over. They are the artists and everyone else is just wasting time. So from about 7th grade on I set all the creativity aside. I really liked science and that was something people took seriously so I nurtured this interest. I studied hard and put art in a tiny little box, denigrated it and did it here or there as a very last priority. Not important, just something to fill an elective.
And then I worked myself like crazy to arrive in a career that didn’t serve me and into a dead end of depression and depletion and so had to reexamine my choices to get myself back on track. That was about 3 years ago. What I found was that the glaring omission was my creative life. I had pushed it away and gone racing in the other direction running harder and harder away from it, partially fueled by the terror of facing what was really meaningful to me, what sorts of risks I would have to take for the truly meaningful work.
And I finally did slow down and face my creative light and battle with the demons that had walled it off from me. The voices: “You are not good enough,” “this work is not meaningful,” “you are not creating anything of value,” “you don’t have value when you do this work,” “you are never going to be good enough to be…an artist, a designer, an entrepreneur, a writer…”
And so I return to Clarissa Estes who says this creative work is the most meaningful thing in the whole world: “…[A] woman’s creative ability is her most valuable asset, for it gives outwardly and it feeds her inwardly at every level: psychic, spiritual, mental, emotive, and economic. The wild nature pours out endless possibilities, acts as birth channel, invigorates, slakes thirst, satiates our hunger for the deep and wild life. [With it] we are made so alive that we in turn give life out; we burst, we bloom, we divide and multiply, we impregnate, incubate, impart, give forth.”
She talks about creativity as a river and describes all the dams and diversions that inhibit its flow. Well I can tell you there are a huge number of dams on my creative river. I am dismantling them and starting to achieve flow. And chances are that many of us have these dams because they come from a society that is hostile towards creativity. And I wonder as I continue to observe in real time the sum of our environmental degradation–today in the form of our second tropic storm in the Southeast in April since we started keep track in 1960 and the furthest north this early on record (hurricane season usually begins June 1) (Aljazeera)–to what extent is the degradation of our personal and collective creativity connected to the degradation of our environment? If, as Dr. Estes says, this creativity is life giving, does the blocking of creativity take life away? Is one lovely, beautiful, joyful, solution to our fractured relationship with the planet to return the vital importance of creativity to its rightful place?
If each of us starts returning creativity to its rightful place in our lives, we will see what happens.
Go. Fight. Win.