Some time ago, we took a family trip to a big arts and crafts store. We drove over an hour (one way) to get to this store, and we all had the best time shopping. Well, maybe my husband didn’t have such a good time, but he did fill his own basket with supplies.
Time stands still when I enter one of these stores. The bigger it is, the more my mind flutters from one project to another. I need lots and lots of time to wander.
We got to the check-out counter with our orders. My daughter had a bunch of items for her clay making projects; my son had pencils, a sketchbook, and a new eraser; my husband had paint supplies (he had a duck decoy project to work on); I had paper, lots and lots of paper.
The cashier rang up our items, bagging them separately, and she made a comment that struck me as odd.
“You’re certainly a creative family.” she said.
“I guess we are.” I laughed.
It was like I had never thought of us that way before. Creativity is just what we do. It’s part of living. I don’t think any of us ever set out to be creative, but that sure is where we ended up.
And while the paths and outcomes of creative living will vary wildly from person to person, I can guarantee you this: A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and…a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.
Because creative living is where Big Magic will always abide.
When I started thinking about it, I realized I come from a long line of creatives. At one time, my mom made and painted ceramics, my aunt did needlework, my grandma crocheted and sewed and knitted. My grandpa worked with wood when he was young, and did some sewing projects with plastic canvas as he got older. I don’t know, but I suspect my great-grandparents were creative in their own ways. Necessity is often a great encourager of creativity.
In times past, I suspect people needed to live creative lives in order to live well; now, creative living seems almost a luxury.
Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself. It begins when you declare your intent. Stand up tall and say it aloud, whatever it is:
I’m a writer:
I’m a singer:
I’m an actor:
I’m a gardener:
I’m a dancer:
I’m an inventor:
I’m a photographer:
I’m a chef:
I’m a designer:
I am this, and I am that, and I am also this other thing too!
I don’t yet know exactly what I am, but I’m curious enough to go find out!
When our children are young, we encourage them to be creative-to color and draw and dance and sing and make something out of nothing. We delight in their imaginations, and applaud their accomplishments with pride, but somewhere along the way of life, we lose that sense of wonder. We no longer wonder if we can make it, draw it, create it, write it…whatever. We just give up trying. We trade creative living for busy living.
One of my long-time favorite bloggers, Edie from Life in Grace, talks about purposefully building margin into our lives, because margin is where the magic happens. It’s where we set ourselves free to not just imagine, but to create.
I honestly don’t think of myself as being a very creative person. I just like to make stuff. It would be terrible to live a life where I do not give myself permission, time, and space to make things I love.
Recently, I explained it to someone like this:
“Making things is my escape. It keeps me balanced and clears my head. I feel like I need to do it for me.”
Here’s the thing though, I feel like I need to live creatively for me, but I also need to do it for the sake of those around me. Creative living helps me be more genuinely me. In order to be good and useful and a help to those around me, I need to take that time to be me.
Maybe that makes perfect sense to you, maybe not.
You are not required to save the world with your creativity…it doesn’t have to be important.
I just know that I can’t imagine living in a world where I didn’t wonder if I could make something, and then give it a try.
Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble…It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).
You don’t have to be good at what you do. Your creativity doesn’t have to earn you money. It doesn’t have to be important or life-changing. Your creativity doesn’t owe you fame or fortune or your name displayed in lights.
But, if there’s creativity buried somewhere deep inside, and if it’s nagging at the corners of your mind, invite it in to your life. Give it margin to grow. Explore; create; live fully.
Head on over to my personal blog, The Domestic Fringe, to read
* All excerpts where taken from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.