I am convinced we are all born creative and gifted in a field or two. Even though only a relatively small number of people generate ideas that are truly fresh, revolutionary, and ground-shaking, we are all capable of conceiving original ideas and expressing them through various media. We are all capable of making our lives more fulfilling and rewarding by tapping into the source of creativity that undeniably resides on a plane other than our ordinary existence. If you don’t fancy me a particularly credible source on the subject, I don’t blame you, but you are welcome to read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle. The book is amazing. It will give you wings. (Hopefully, not the short-lived variety supplied by Red Bull.) Or, maybe it won’t. Results vary, as they say.
So, how exactly do we tap into the source? Unfortunately, that part is quite personal and mysterious. Now I am not even sure that we are the ones who do the tapping. It might be the opposite is true: the source tapping into us. The good news is, if we’ve heard the call of the source, which often manifests as an overwhelming desire to create, we have no other choice than just do it. That, however, doesn’t mean our path will be paved with gold and covered with roses; rocks and thorns, more likely. To paraphrase, hope for the gold and roses and prepare for rocks and thorns. Then there will be no reason to lose heart over minor hick-ups, but there will be enough courage to face major challenges with sangfroid befitting kings.
Now, there is a reasonable question: What do we need to do? Try bowling. Seriously. This piece of advice was given (indirectly, of course) to some less “talented” attendees at a writing workshop, described by W. Zinsser in his book Writing Places (a seriously good book about writing nonfiction). Leaving speculations about what talent is and who’s got it and who’s not to critics, I interpret this go-bowling business as a warning: before we plunge (I am talking about serious commitment, not just toe dipping) into a creative pursuit, be it writing or doll making, we need to make sure that what we want to pursue is really what we want. Pressfield in his book suggests checking our commitment by asking ourselves: “If I were the last man/woman on the planet, would I still keep doing it?” I personally can’t fathom being the last woman on Earth, let alone what I would do in such situation — searching for others and going crazy, maybe? The question simply doesn’t work for me, because it brings a host of other questions with it. How about an alternative? Would I be still committed to my creative pursuit even if I knew I would not be paid a dime for doing it my entire life? It’s a tough question, but it has to be answered. Yes or no. If the answer is yes, then I must gather up my courage, focus my vision, arm myself with patience, and just do it. Show up for my calling every day. No sick leaves. No vacation. For the rest of my life.
Think you could do it?
PS: Are you wondering what the pretty picture at the top is doing in this post? It actually demonstrates my point. That little flower, the name of which I don’t know, grows in Alberta’s foothills and is at the peak of its beauty in late spring – early summer, when the nights are still cold, and it may snow any time. Yet, there it is, a tiny yellow wonder.