I have a dear friend, let's call her "Fran", who I've heard frequently define herself as an "average boring professional without a creative bone in me". So, according to her, to become creative, her rational approach has been to read every self-help book she can possibly get her hands on and while she's at it, also reads books to teach her how to become happier.
She has them all! Even has inspiring quotes painted on her walls and a stack of motivation cards near her computer. They're encouraging and uplifting in the moment and quite often passes them on to friends who she thinks could use some help too. But she still feels “un-creative”.
Coming from a theatrical and humanities background as I do, it feels natural one day, for me to ask my friend Fran if she has ever thought of riding herself of the prescribed antidotes of bought inspiration or even maybe reading some other kinds of books?
She looks at me, puzzled, and asks, "like what?"
"What about a classic novel, something with an arching narrative, maybe even some poetry?"
She's still puzzled and maybe a little skeptical at this point: "Why?"
My creative fervour comes alive. Grateful for the question, I jump at it eagerly! "Why? Because you need to “get some poetry in your life”!" I seem to say that a lot these days, and yes it sounds ambiguous. After all, what exactly does that even mean? "Get some poetry in your life".
What does "Get some poetry in your life" mean?
"so much depends upon a red wheel barrow..." william carlos williams
In my view, it's the act of experiencing life through new perspectives. It’s allowing for space in your soul and in your body to be receptive to the "life force" that surges through the world. A force that awakes your imagination. A space where metaphors come alive! The rational mind is always dictating what you do and is motored by a morphing consuming energy. It always wants something. It needs something. Telling you “You should do something” “You could do something.” Your thoughts are so powerful, they take control. And we always seem to listen to the rational mind FIRST, and the soul and body are relegated to SECOND and THIRD priority of our attention.
Is your mind more important than your soul or your body?
Well, I am not so sure. What about that creative, passionate, yearning soul of yours? That great, insightful, intuitive body of yours? Both soul and body can accept a great deal of beauty and pain. Both can lead you on a creative path. That is the poetry of life! When the soul leads the body; or the body leads the soul – let that over-achieving and needy mind take a backseat for a change.
When in Doubt, look to the Classics!
"Fran, why not read a classic?" I persist.
It was a spontaneous offer. Fran has expressed that she’s “read it all”, and yet still felt uncreative. I did not get into the reasons why I believed this might be a journey worth taking for Fran. It was an experiment really, for me as well. I am confronted with this urge to share my thoughts and then to guide people on artistic journeys. Why? I guess it’s a curiosity of my own. I am curious about what amazing things might happen when someone comes alive inside through experiencing "poetry" - whatever that may mean for them. Maybe it's time to drop the C-word – CREATIVITY. I shudder using it because it gets touted so often and with such an aura of unreachability or an easy set of defined rules around how to attain it. And to boot, we're often been told that you're either born creative, or you're not.
Journey or Destination?
We read about creativity all the time; like how you can achieve creativity through simple steps like paint a rock, do a dance, write a play! But you cannot achieve creativity or be creative. Creativity is not a destination, nor a terminal state of being that we strive to reach at the end of our efforts; "Creativity" is the proverbial journey! It’s the action of being poetic.
When guiding people towards the poetic of life, the guide must be curious themselves. There is no set way, it is a process. And for each of us, it's a different process! How exciting to have your own unique process!
Fran put her trust in me and bravely took up the challenge. This was a new approach for her and one she never really thought about before. It felt somehow possible to her, she shared. Exciting, daunting but possible. 'Where do I start?" she asks. “What about googling the ten best classic novels ever written?” I say. I was sure she would discover that she knew quite a few of them. And she did.
To my delight, my adventurous friend reported back a week later: "Sue! I read The Hobbit!" I was so impressed - I have yet to wade through that one myself! "It was so cool to imagine the places and characters. I have to read more!" I encourage her, yes! Next, Fran shares that she’s reading Alice Munroe. A woman writer, and a Canadian. She tells me that she was curious to read Alice Munro.
And there it was - the magic word: CURIOUS!
Fran no longer seems intent on reading to find solutions to "fix" her lack of creativity or to find elusive happiness. I am so thrilled for her! She is on a Curiosity Quest! Driven now by a thirst for new experiences and new emotions! Seeing this evolution in my dear friend fills me with joy! I am reminded yet again of the power of "poetry" to transform us and make our lives feel more like an adventure than a tediously impossible set of tasks. [BTW Fran has now signed up for painting classes, calligraphy classes and even dance class! How cool is that? She just needed to be reminded or guided towards the unexpected world of living poetically!]
I am honoured to have been her "guide", to have set her on her own unique journey of discovery, curiosity and yes - CREATIVITY!
I'd love to hear about your creative journey! What do you do to live your creativity? How do you bring poetry into your daily life? Need a push, a shove to get you going… Leave me a comment, send a message, get in touch! I'd love to hear your story! check out my site
When faced with the decision to cross the road in order to get to other side, do you: a) walk b) run