The creative life is a tough life.
It’s filled with unique tensions, contradictions and dilemmas. And it comes with heavy doses of doubt, fear, block, burn-out and rejection.
So why do we do it?
Why do we sacrifice and slave for years practicing a craft despite the odds of success?
Why do we constantly offer ourselves and our work to a world too busy to notice and critics too confident to care?
I think I know.
I think you do too.
At our very core, we are social beings. We are designed for connection. And we thrive in communion and community.
Creativity is a communal activity. One we have within ourselves with all the personas and characters that inhabit us. And one we have with others like us (and not like us) in the nooks and crannies of this globally local world.
What follows are my responses to “why creativity?” I look forward to hearing your ideas, beliefs and questions in the comments!
Because creativity is simultaneously limited and limitless.
Because creativity seeks what is and what can be, rather than what could be or should be.
Because creativity is a 4Q activity, rather than a Q4 activity.
Because creativity is an intensely private inner life shared publicly.
Because creativity contains forbidden fruit, a wilderness and a cross.
Because creativity is curiosity.
Because creativity is deliberate, yet serendipitous.
Because creativity is freedom in structure. And structure in freedom.
Because creativity thrives in paradox, dilemma and contradiction.
Because creativity sees the reality behind the ideal. And the ideal in the face of reality.
Because creativity is a sonic landscape. An emotional orgasm. A sensory experience. Simultaneously real and unreal.
Because creativity hears noise in silence. And silence in noise.
Because creativity is ritual, routine and rhythm.
Because creativity is shared space.
Because creativity is negotiable. After all, who gets to decide what is creative and what isn’t?
Because creativity is a portfolio. A patchwork quilt. A collage. A chord. An aha. An apple. An accident.
Because creativity is a choice. When it packs full, we call it virtuosity. And when it selectively omits, which we call it mastery.
Because creativity pursues mystery like a lover.
Because creativity tills the vast land of our imagination, and prepares it to receive seeds.
Because creativity is seeing the familiar in unfamiliar ways.
Because creativity empowers, enlightens and enrages.
Because creativity isn’t a lifestyle. It’s a life.
Because creativity is risk. And chance. And discovery.
Because creativity exists in tension. Therefore, creativity exists in harmony.
Because creativity means connecting seemingly separate things in surprising ways. Ways that feed our mind, heart and soul.
Creativity lets us see the unseen. Feel the unfelt. And say the unsaid.
Poet, James Dickey, is often quoted as saying, “What you have to realize when you write poetry, or if you love poetry, is that poetry is just naturally the greatest –––damn thing that ever was in the whole universe.”
That pretty much sums up the creative life, doesn’t it?
That’s why we continue to do what we do, no matter what.
We can’t stop trying to connect things to see what emerges and blooms.
Creativity is the practice of craft and community. Through our craft, we connect things. Through community, we connect people to each other, ourselves and our work.
What do you think?
What does creativity mean to you?
Why do you continue practicing the creative life?
Keith Jennings is a professional writer, editor and marketing advisor with a diverse portfolio of creative and commercial work. His blog, Keitharsis, is a resource for Creatives (both part-time and professional) facing blocks, burn-out and doubt. Connect with him at www.keithjennings.com
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