Our relationship to creativity

By Marc Felix and Kathrin Seitz | Jan 30, 2011

Marc’s perspective

Shamans say that all of us have songs, poems, pictures, dances, stories and every kind of creativity inside of us. If we keep our creative energy bottled inside it can make us sick. In order to stay healthy we have to express our songs and poems and dances. Creativity is a medicine for the body, mind, and the soul. Of course, creativity is not just singing and dancing and painting. It can be cooking or carpentry or gardening or setting the table. Anything you do can be an avenue for your creative expression.

Maybe you don’t see yourself as an artist, poet, or dancer. Do you need to see yourself as an athlete to get the benefits of exercise?

Why have we become observers instead of creators? Most people are an audience rather than a musician or a painter or a dancer. Our culture has programmed us to think of artists as different than we are. But I believe that we are all artists. Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”.

If you’re expressing your creativity you’ll never be bored. The world will always be fresh. As Oscar Wilde said: “to look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty.” Practice seeing more deeply till what is being looked at reveals its secrets. Are you just looking at things, or really seeing them? Are you just hearing things, or really listening?

Our creativity is the ticket to our uniqueness, the way to catapult ourselves out of the dullness of convention and conformity. Creativity breaks the rules and allows us to explore new territory.

Why don’t more people express their creativity? One of the biggest obstacles is the inner critic, that part of us that thinks that what we do isn’t good enough. To free your creativity you must get rid of judgment. Take a risk. Throw away words like “mistake” and “bad.” Let yourself be free. Experiment. And of course, have fun!

Creativity is a doorway to spirituality. Often creative people have the experience that their creations move through them from a mysterious source that awakens them to visionary dimensions. Chagall, when asked if he went to synagogue, said, “my work is my prayer."

There are thousands of possibilities for creative expression. But perhaps the ultimate creativity is how, with love and gratitude, we create our own lives.



Kathrin's perspective

When I read Marc's piece I am reminded of a quote from Henry Miller: "Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there."

I believe, fervently, that Miller is right. As Marc says, we all have songs, poems, pictures, dances and stories inside of us. As Miller says, we have only to open up. And when we do so, without judgment, with acceptance of our God-given gifts, we can relax and express our creative selves.

My friend Peter Korn, founder and CEO of The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, believes that, "creative practice makes life meaningful precisely because we are participants in the larger human project of thinking ourselves and the world into being." And I would add: Not for profit, not for recognition (these may come.), but for satisfaction, for fulfillment of our lives as humans on the earth. We are meant to express ourselves through our hearts, minds, hands, brains and brawn. To do so is a celebration of the divine.

All the sages agree that it is not our job to judge the value of our work. As Martha Graham says in a letter to Agnes de Mille: "It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it [your creative work] is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open."

So what does this mean? For me, it means we must follow our impulses. If we are drawn to learning to play jazz piano, we must honor that impulse, find a teacher and begin. No questions asked. Simply humility before our master (God, the universe, creative Impulse, simply a force larger than we are). The creative arts demand humility of the artist.

For me, one of the amazing gifts of winter here in Maine is the call to slow down and go in. It's as if the cold, wind, the storms are calling us to turn inward, to sit by the fire and dream. So many of us have crafts that we turn to in the winter months. I slow down and turn to writing and drawing. I take photos and create new menus. Maine is filled with talented artisans. Jewelry making, weaving, stained glass and glass blowing, making wood furniture, carving quilting, knitting — these are all the gifts of winter. Perhaps we gather in this land because we know we will have a moment, of darkness and stillness, to turn in and make the acquaintance of our creative souls. And of our creator.

Speaking of winter storms, tonight I spent 20 minutes watching out the window as our snowplow truck driver cleaned the large parking lot beneath our apartment. The driver was totally focused on his creative task. He backed up and came at the snow with great power, pushing it into eight-foot tall piles. And then he would back up and do it again. To me, not only was he creating a beautiful clear space for us and for our cars, but he was playing with the snow and creating forms that did not exist before. Perhaps everything we do can be done as a creative task. And if we do it thus, we are building a beautiful universe, creating a sacred space and worshipping our god and goddesses all at the same time.















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