I have noticed that when a common thread runs through several philosophies, books, and theories, and is talked about by various people, that it is worth taking note of as it most likely points to the Truth. In this case it is energy. From quantum physics to prophets, nearly everyone understands that everything is comprised of energy. What we are and the creative things we do are guided and influenced by the energy of the universe. When we sit down to write, draw, play music, or set up outside for painting and photography, we invite the muse to visit us, that intelligent part of the universe that whispers to us that we are creative beings and our birthright is to create. As many of us know, there are hundreds of ways that we can engage that energy, just as there are myriad of ways that we block that same creative impulse. Perhaps the greatest feat of becoming an artist, regardless of how successful one has become, is to know what gets in the way of the guidance that urges us to create. When we are in that state of creating, we find the peace and joy that all of us chase after. Art often is the medium by which we let go of the things that bother us, and in turn uncover what we’ve been born to be. I can speak from experience when, after engaging in a creative endeavor, I can return to ‘the world’ with a calm, bright demeanor.
I have often written on my belief that we create based on who we are; that we discover more about ourselves when we are creative. And this is one example of how we get in our own way. To create, there must be acceptance of who we are. All the parts, not just the colorful, funny ones with lots of compassion, but the dark, ugly ones, too. Because our creativity is flavored with our life experiences and our perceptions, it is unique. But to create at all, we must be honest with ourselves. Inspiration comes when we show up at the page, easel, dark room, or stove. We begin to do the work, rolling up our sleeves and diving in with both hands, and then the peace arrives, and the whisperings become an orchestra director in our minds. However, if we were to not be authentic, or try to imitate other artists and never strike out on our own, or refuse to be bold enough to make friends with, and accept, our shadow selves, then that block is revealed in our art. The stories lack a good plot. The photographs are blurred. The dish is bland. The music has no crescendo. And not only will others see that we are holding back, but our own inner critic will bring out the soap box.
‘The Sneaky Voice of Unreason’, as Cat Bennett, author of The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind, calls the ego, is perhaps the biggest hurdle that we, as artists, must overcome. In certain circumstances in our lives, the ego protects us and keeps us safe. However, as we grow into adulthood, those same behaviors and thoughts that at one time kept us from harm, often gets in the way of fully expressing who we are as human beings. If we continue to listen to our critic, we play it safe and don’t risk exploring art or exposing ourselves to our own bright light. It is the ego and its constant chatter, often loud enough to drown out the muse, that keeps us small, keeps our thoughts and ideas about who we can become and how being adventurous in our art can make us more into the person we are meant to be, in the shadows. With awareness and practice and exercises, we can sit the critic in the corner and make it silent for a while. At least long enough to do what our heart cries out for: to dabble in the silly play of creating music, sculpture, poetry, paintings, elaborate desserts, or emotional dances. I’ve written before about giving the ego a place to speak, then setting it aside. There have been numerous activities to practice taking hold of the reins of creativity and doing it despite the nasty remarks of the critic. That voice isn’t real and it pokes at our insecurities. Perhaps we could let it win, or we could allow Truth to pour out of our medium and bless the world with our uniqueness. The choice is ours to make.
We’ve completed half the book! There are more obstacles than the outspoken ego that gets in our way. As we overcome these hurdles, great things can be brought forth. There are still some interesting reads on my website www.myjoyenterprises.com and I will follow through on the posting of new content soon.