I received the most amazing message the other day from a friend with whom I attended college over 35 years ago. This is a woman with whom I lost touch almost immediately after graduation but never forgot. She was this beautiful natural redhead with depth and aura. I often wondered what happened to her. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, we rediscovered each other and, since she’s a kindred spirit, we took up where we left off, not having to communicate with great regularity, but with the knowledge that whenever we would communicate, it would always be the same, wondrous, easy dialog we’ve always enjoyed. These types of connections are real, powerful and prove that we are energy – and that as such, we connect at levels so much deeper than we are aware of at the surface.
Her message had to do with the issues we face as artists and creatives – the most notable, being understood by those around us. My friend contends, in her message to me, that the reason creatives sometimes feel like fish out of water has to do with…
“…A very fundamental difference in how we see the world, and what’s important to us.”
This different way of seeing the world alters our perceptions, and makes us vulnerable in ways that are difficult to articulate. There are not many creative people I know that have not experienced some sense of sitting on the outside. As if being creatively individualistic is sometimes too much of a challenge for group think, and therefore isn’t always appreciated. Creative people are often seen as demanding, because of the desire to be understood.
Creativity is a burden and a gift. It can make life difficult; it can challenge relationships between ourselves and others but at the same time it gives us tremendous opportunity.
It’s as if the lens of the creative person focuses on things that don’t even seem to be there at first glance, and then tortures itself to bring those things into focus, obliterating the obvious, exalting the subtle. The creative person digs, sometimes with great fury, to uncover the greatness in the ordinary, the meaning in the forgotten. And she does this because she can’t not do it. Because to not do it means to die inside.
Because the creative person is nothing if not curious. And curiosity brings with with it, by its very nature, change. Development. Growth. Casting away of one school of thought, opening to another. And that brings with it humility, vulnerability and sometimes pain.
Each of us, at our core, is creative. Curiosity is something with we humans are each born. We can take that curiosity and bury it. We can think of life as boring and dull, and make our own existence living proof that it is so. Or we can honor our own creativity, allowing it to blossom in which ever way seems the best for our nature. Creativity is not limited to art and music. It encompasses everything from math to Mozart. From chemistry to Cézanne. There is creativity in how we live, what we wear, how we express ourselves.
But creativity does not stand a chance if there is no curiosity behind it. And curiosity, by its very nature, comes with a life long question mark.
What can you do?
What can you reach for?
How far can you go?
There is power in the knowledge that the answer to all of these questions will always be more questions. We’re not really here at all to get answers, because there aren’t any, not really. Which is why curiosity is so important. Our wisdom comes from the path, from the trying, from being open and humble, not from having the answers.
There are no final answers. There are only more questions. So you can roll up and die of boredom right this very minute or you can choose the other option.
Ask your questions. Work for the response, and discover the new questions buried within the answer.
Such is the life of a creative, curious person.