The three ingredients for creative living beyond fear
We’re all born creative. Of that I’m certain.
Archaic educational systems just ring the creativity out of us. Either that, or discontented elders convince us we’re not creative (in an effort to soothe the ache in their own souls). And some of us, well, we just forget we’re born with creativity pulsing through our veins. But we are. We all are.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert puts it well in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: “you have treasures within you – extraordinary treasures,” and creative living is the art of “continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you.”
Creativity of this sort isn’t the sole domain of artists, musicians, dancers and poets. It’s a birthright bestowed upon each of us from the first moment we open our eyes. It’s the domain of ‘makers’ and ‘creators’, of builders and gardeners and cooks and teachers. It’s the playground of snowboarders and surfers; and the creative space of entrepreneurs, innovators and legislators. Every act we make, every breath we take and project we pursue is an act of creation. We are all creative.
In forgetting our creativity, we limit it - and our power. In not owning our creativity, we subconsciously squeeze it into the shape and confines of society’s story lines. We belittle ourselves and render ourselves bland and boring. We end up colouring between the lines and inadvertently burying the ‘jewels hidden within us’. Instead, we go digging for someone else’s treasure – and our world is denied the delight of seeing our own sparkle.
The question is, how do you know where to dig for your creative treasure? If you’ve never felt creative, or you’ve doubted the value of your creativity, where do you begin? Gilbert provides a few stunningly simple signposts. Here’s the simple recipe…
Courage. + Curiosity. + Joy. = Creative Living.
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.” It is, according to Gilbert, “pursuing and doing whatever gives you a sense of transcendence while here on Earth.”
What does that mean? Well, to touch upon the transcendent is to allow our joy. It’s to love ourselves enough to let ourselves be ourselves – and it’s the path that leads to the treasure hidden within us.
So ask yourself – what sparks your curiosity? What, when you do it, do you lose yourself in? What sends your cells into sparkling showers of glee? What lights the innocent eagerness of your childhood self?
Now go and dig there – with stubborn discipline and innocent eyes free from expectation.
This directive comes with a warning though: you’ll inevitably encounter some fears along the way. As Gilbert puts it:
“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction… If I want creativity in my life – and I do – then I will have to make space for fear too.”
So creative living demands courage. Indeed, it's “a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear”.
The lesson? Don’t wait for the doubts and the fears to disappear. Don’t wait until you feel perfectly baked and perfectly ready. Creativity isn’t a path of perfection. It’s not the domain of neatly groomed manikins masquerading as humans. It’s messy and littered with the unexpected and quirky. And it’s never the same twice.
Too often we’re confined by our fear. Confined by our what-ifs and anxieties. Disconnected from our inherent creativity and power by the looming fear of failure, or rejection, or starvation. And yet, what would happen if we courageously and studiously made space for our curiosity, joy and creativity?
I can only speak for myself, but the more I dare to dance with that transcendent spark of joy in me, the more epic life gets.
So, in case you missed it, here’s that creative living recipe once more:
follow your joy with discipline and good humour;
make peace with your fear; and
show up daily with curiosity and courage.
For those of you ready to embrace your creativity and welcome more magic in life – check out Gilbert’s book - Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
And coming soon from my writing desk – more on making peace with your fear.
Artwork by Uschi Steedman - 'The Light in You'; acrylic on canvas, 2016. (More art here.)