What do you think of when you think of a ‘creativity’ and ‘creatives’?
Do you consider yourself a creative?
Or do you think creativity only belongs to a select few? The employed and commissioned painters, writers, musicians and artists of the world? Those guys?
This is where I think people get stuck. Because in my opinion, everyone is a creative. Author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this a lot. We’re all crushing ourselves under the weight of expectation of finding and following our passion. Those of us who don’t have one specific artistic outlet or talent may feel as though we just aren’t creative. She says we should abandon this idea of talent, or passion, and follow our curiosity instead.
What piques your interest? What, as she says, causes you to “turn your head a quarter-inch to the left?” Gardening? Stitching? Fabrics in clothes? A pile of rocks on the beach?
Second, internalized capitalism can leave us feeling like if we don’t do something with our creativity (i.e sell it, make a living from it) it is pointless. This is, to put it delicately, total bullshit. Total bullshit. I consider it quite rebellious and revolutionary every time a woman says ‘I’m going to waste this time on this thing purely because I like it, and nothing else.” I have started wasting my time on drawing. Writing is my lifelong vocation, but as I now am super grateful to make money from it, it’s also a productive vocation. I think everyone should have an unproductive vocation, that they’re not necessarily he most talented at, that they do because they like it.
I used to think rebellion was underage drinking, smoking cigarettes and piercing your own tongue (it was one time, okay?!) Now I find people who grant themselves the time to create something just for the hell of it, with no intention of it going anywhere, incredibly, incredibly sexy.
“Lets make something!”
This is one of my friends favorite things to say. On a trip to the beach, on a Sunday afternoon, on a random get-together. Let’s make something. Anything. It’s not really important. On one road trip up the coast in Australia a bunch of us spent the afternoon collecting seaweed, seashells, rocks, twigs, and set about making a huge ‘landscape portrait’ in the sand. It looked like a bunch of six year olds had made it. And the sea destroyed it approximately two hours later when the tide came in.
But we did it to get ourselves moving, to concentrate on something, to play together, to laugh at our ridiculous ‘masterpiece.’ We did it to have an alternative to sitting around and cracking the wine open and letting our brains run wild trying to intellectually dissect all the mysteries of the universe and everyone in it. That can be fun and nourishing in it’s own way, but in my experience, sometimes it’s also good to switch off that part of ourselves too, lest we start over-analyzing, over-discussing over-thinking, over-intellectualising ever second of our lives, while never living a second of it.
Because, when you’re in the ‘let’s make something!’ mindset, you feel vital. Alive. You’re switched on and curious and considering a range of possibilities for what you see around you. Hell YES that glob of seaweed can be a majestic mountainside in our beach landscape portrait! Why not? It’s silly, and feels light, and kind of like playing you’re playing a game with life. The stakes aren’t so high. It’s not so serious.
At a recent Salty Club meeting, my co-founders Erika, Marie-Christine and I were waiting at a restaurant after a long day of platform planning.
We asked for the kids pack of crayons and started drawing on the paper tablecloth while we waited for our meal.
It got us out of our heads, back into our kid-selves, back into playing. And then we spilled pasta and wine all over it and the waiters crumpled it and put it in the trash at the end of the night.
Creating something can be healing, and builds confidence.
Creativity can be incredibly healing and aid in processing certain events. It can be a form of alchemy, turning something into something else, almost like witchcraft, or magic. Writing something, painting something, drawing something, singing something, interpretative dancing something, can be your way to tell your story to yourself. It’s a way to pull it out of the dark, dusty corners of your memory, feel through it, make it something tangible and outside yourself. A way to put yourself in control of how you integrate it as a fact of your life story, and perhaps offer as a gift to others.
Like some superhero movie where the villain throws you a bunch of stuff toxic radioactive nuclear waste and you catch that shit in the sky and turn it into flowing rivers that replenish the land. That’s pretty cool.
If you’d like some guidance on how to practice this, you can check out Gabby Mather’s Masterclass: ‘How to heal through the art of mindful storytelling’ in The Salty Club TODAY.
Creativity alleviates anxiety, promotes mindfulness and presence
Have you ever become so immersed in a creative pursuit that you completely lose track of time and space? This is called the flow state, and is one of the few times in life we’re not planning, stressing, reminiscing, trying to be anywhere other than here. Wether you’re creating with others or alone, through talking, or physical creating with your hands, creativity puts you in the moment, where you’re directly interacting with life at this very second.
According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (don’t even ask me to try pronounce it, cause I can’t, and I won’t), flow state is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
So with all this in mind…
Shall we make something?