I don't like the word 'creativity'; it fills me with a low-grade fever of annoyance and panic. There's a lot of pressure to be 'creative' these days; self-help gurus (not to mention MBAs, social-workers, famous authors, and fast-track entrepreneurs) are screaming it from the rooftops, it seems to me: To be happy in this life, you must access your own personal well of creativity. You must spend a significant amount of time engaged in play. You must fight, fight, fight against the daily grind that can catch and squeeze you tight. What's in danger if we don't do this? Our stress hormones, our connection to spirit, our very soul.
If you're anything like me, you find this call to creativity more than a little frightening; not because you don't agree (you do - I do; we're creative people, at bottom), but because an immense about of PRESSURE accompanies this call. I don't even have children yet, and still I'm conscious of how swiftly each day's hours slip by, full to bursting with work to do, errands to run, rooms to clean, dogs to walk, food to be made, love to be offered.
Here's the difference between the blog-writing Beth of 2012, and the blog-writing Beth of 2016:
2012. Then, I was single, and working a job that, when you really got honest about it, only took up about 20-30 hours of the work-week. I had quite a bit of time when I could live the self-important life of a twenty-something-year-old: walk and think. Go to coffee shop and write. Stay up till midnight (often later) because no six-o'clock alarm would ring. I had a tiny, drafty apartment that was my own, a teaching gig that kept me living a student's life, and plenty of time to dwell deep in 'crisis', when it came (or when I created it out of thin air).
2016. Now, I've got a real, live, full-time teaching gig. Like, I've got to be ON at eight o'clock every weekday morning, come rain or shine, come bad hair or lack of sleep. I no longer have those indeterminate hours for designing my own schedule; my alarm DOES ring at six a.m. Every. Single. Day. I've also got a husband to love and support, more bills to pay, and (knock wood) not a whole lot of crisis from which I'm supposed to bloom.
Here's what I don't like about this comparison: The 2016 blog-writing Beth comes off as a little bit...boring. At least, that's how I feel when I stack her up against the looming expectations of CREATIVITY. But I don't think her life is boring. It requires more energy, yes; it demands greater doses of reality and responsibility, but it's also quite beautifully peaceful, sturdy, and full of promise. Full, when you begin to redefine the word, of very creative living. Consider the following:
- You are creating something when you pour cream into your cup of coffee (this is the way you like it).
- You are creating something when you help your children dress for school (this will keep you warm today; that color brings out your eyes).
- You are creating something when you kiss your beloved good morning (Love. Love is what you're creating).
- You are creating something when you answer that first e-mail or talk to your colleagues (communion, or kinship, or a link in the chain).
- You are creating something when you take the dog for a walk (look at the sky, dog; listen to the birds who are singing for us)
- You are creating something when you make dinner (I don't care if it's boxed mac & cheese. Nourishment is pure creativity).
- You are creating something when you wash your face before bed and look in the mirror (hello, you. I know your unadorned face).
- You are creating something when you turn off the light, and close your eyes, and fall asleep (a body ready for another day of living).
Thanks for reading.