Creating Courage: What Creativity Means to Me
I am passionate about creativity.
I believe that creativity is alchemy. When we create, we pour all of our thoughts, feelings and unprocessed emotions into the inception of something else.
Creativity does not magically make our problems disappear. It does not erase pain or take away trauma. It does not necessarily change our circumstances. But (and this is big), it can help us to reach the next breath with a little more ease. And sometimes, that can be enough to change everything.
The very first photograph that I ever took and developed myself was during a school class. I was eleven years old.
The class was taken to the street, just outside of the school building We were each given a camera with film and asked to take a photograph of anything.
There was a cat nearby and most people tried to capture her, sitting on the wall in front of us. But I was looking at the crushed Coke can, discarded in the gutter. I was looking at the way the raised texture of the curb was contrasting with the smooth metal of the can. All I could see was depth and difference. Afterwards, in the dark room, I saw my image come to life and I felt something come to life inside me, too.
This was the first time that I allowed myself to be led by a creative guiding force that I could neither touch nor see, only feel. But instead of nurturing this new feeling, instead of tending to this deep desire that wanted so badly to be born outside of me, I dismissed the idea that I could be artistic and I filled my days with other things.
For a very long time, there was a void in my life that I had no idea how to fill. I tried anyway. I sought refuge in relationships, oblivion in alcohol, acceptance in circles that I didn’t much care to be a part of.
None of it truly touched the sides of what I was thirsting for.
It would be many years later before I would return to photography. The next time I took a photograph with creative intention was when I was on a beach one summer evening. The horizon view was beautiful to look at, but I didn’t feel a pull to capture it.
Instead, I began to pay attention to the pebbles that were gleaming with the residue of the sea. I noticed how they weren’t remarkable as solitary stones, but when placed together they transformed themselves.
Creativity creates awareness. It also strengthens connection to ourselves and the spaces we occupy.
For most of my life I felt as though I was looking for a cure. I was searching for a definitive answer. Something that would unlock me. I always felt that the solution was tied up in something or someone else.
If I could just be in that relationship. If I could just own that house. If I could just have that job.
Always searching. Ever seeking. Never really finding out or fitting in.
Creativity helped me to understand myself. To believe myself. To have the courage to claim my own space and share my self expression.
I’d been so intent on looking at all the external things, that I’d completely missed the magic of my own imagination and my ability to take the conceptual and make it tangible. And because of that great missing piece, I was also completely unaware of how creativity could bring me back to myself, and not make me afraid to stay in my own skin.
It took embracing creativity for me to recognize what had been true all along:
I am the key.
I am the home.
When everything else is a flurry of chaos, I know I have sanctuary in creating. Always. It does not matter what budget I have, or what resources I have available to me – creativity will find a way to burst through.
It is in these moments of creative meditation that I am able to make sense of the senseless. I am able to move through my world with more ease, I am able to afford myself an easier breath.
Externally, everything is the the same. Internally, everything shifts.
These moments are my pause, my prayer, my opportunity to process. It is mindful and mindless all at once. And it is greatly empowering.
By deliberately creating I get to reaffirm who I am. I get to remember that nothing is lost or wasted, everything is fuel. It is not so much art imitating life, rather art witnessing life. Not asking it to be different, simply acknowledging what is.
Creativity brings me peace and strengthens my resolve. Both of which are welcome hands to hold on this journey of humanness.