The Elegance of Creativity

My husband has rekindled his hobby of making stained glass art. It has been a joy to watch him set up his work space, assemble his supplies, tinker for hours with his designs, and hang the finished products in the window for sunshine to bring them to life. Mike’s creativity had been lying dormant like a seed just below the surface, ready to emerge when the time was right. 

His inspiration was refueled a few weeks ago when we visited a friend’s garage art studio. As Mindy showed us her work area filled with her collection of beautiful handmade jewelry and pottery, my husband’s blue eyes lit up like fire in a kiln. The tipping point was our friend’s casual comment, “I make art as a creative release, and it makes me happy.” And just like that, my husband was an artist again. 

In his book The Courage to Create, Rollo May wrote, “We express our being by creating. Creativity is a necessary sequel to being.” May believed creativity is an essential component of a successful and fulfilling life. We were created to create. 

Our desire to create is seen in the popularity of television programs featuring ordinary people being creative. Watching other people bake cakes, plant gardens, and build tree houses makes for good television, but it doesn’t garner the same positive benefits as rolling up our sleeves and doing it ourselves. Maybe that explains the success of stores like Hobby Lobby.

There’s something innately elegant about being thoroughly engrossed in making something. When we’re creating, our personal problems melt away along with the cares of the world. We fall into a rhythm psychologists refer to as flow, defined as a mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and utter enjoyment.

Minutes flow into happy hours as Mike grinds pieces of glass, as Mindy shapes clay, as my mother-in-law stitches a quilt, as my neighbor decorates sugar cookies. Mihaly Csikszentmihali, a psychologist who died this week at 87, said during intense creativity, “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.” 

Even if you haven’t made anything since that diorama for your seventh grade English class, you are creative. Boldly answer your call to create. Paint. Dance. Weave. Sing. Bake. Carve. Invent. Cook. Design. Sculpt. Fix. Plant. Film. Decorate, Sew. Draw. Write. Act. Quilt. Build. 

So what stops us from exploring our creativity? Here are my top excuses and what I tell myself in response.

  1. I don’t know how. You’re smart; you’ll figure it out. Take advantage of resources at the library, bookstore, and the Internet. Remember, we learn by doing.  
  2. What if I’m not good at it. At first, you probably won’t be. Create for creativity’s sake. If it turns out great, that’s just a bonus. 
  3. I’m not inspired. Go outside. Nature holds all of the inspiration we ever need. Hang out with other creatives. Become a patron of the arts.  
  4. I’m feeling lazy. Life is short. Get up and carpe the heck out of the diem!

Research shows being creative can improve happiness, stress, confidence, focus, problem-solving, authenticity, anxiety, self-expression, sense of freedom, resilience, open-mindedness, risk-taking, decision-making, and clarity. How wonderfully elegant. §

“The creator made us creative. Our creativity is our gift from God. Our use of it is our gift to God.”
~ Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

To watch or listen to this blog post in video format, please click on this YouTube link ~ https://youtu.be/8qtQLyU5NAA

2 thoughts on “The Elegance of Creativity

  1. Hello. I wish that I knew your name so that I could use it when I say hi in a post. I started to knit a beginners mohair striped scarf two weeks ago and I am loving it, as it is a real distraction from the rest of life but also I am enjoying the prettiness of what I am creating. Sure, there are mistakes but I will be wearing it so it does not bother me. It was a delightful coincidence to read about your husband and his hobby as I have also signed up for beginners stained glass workshop in a few weekends, now that lockdown has ended in my part of Australia. I am also able to go to a concert of an orchestra next week and so I will be enjoying the elegance of that too, in line with last week’s post. I will be dressing appropriately – no casual clothes for me, wry smile. I was a teacher too and I remember noticing that the teens I took to see Shakespeare assumed a more grown up attitude and approach when they got to the theatre. Blessings, Cate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Cate! Thank you so much for your sweet note. Sounds like we have much in common! A positive result of the pandemic is realizing how similar we all are around the world. I haven’t had the opportunity to travel outside of the US, but I’d love to visit Australia someday. I look forward to hearing more from you. ❤ Alicia

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