They say absence makes the heart grow fonder… If this is the case then you must all be terribly fond of me!
I’ve been on our annual UK tour visiting different people, catching up and falling in love again with friends, family and places. This year we had three legs of our tour; York (Riding Lights Summer Theatre School), Tunbridge Wells and the Kent coastline. All of these excursions took up time and focus and I couldn’t find much space to take myself way to write and be creative on my own.
I managed to keep one deadline, enforced from an external source, whilst at Riding Lights Summer Theatre School. I want to briefly reflect further on my experience of ‘creativity’. (Read ‘Creativity in Community’ post)
I tried, whilst in Folkestone last week, to get some writing done for my ‘god of the gods’ book. As I sat down to write out some of my theories on what it means to be ‘christian’, I clammed up. I got writer’s block.
I have experienced writer’s block before but this time was different. Before, the sensation was one of not having anything to say. The mind goes blank and you have no original thought to express. You are acutely aware that your mind is currently just ticking along with nothing of any great worth going on. This is difficult, particularly when there is a pressure to produce or be creative, either from an internal or external source.
This time, however, there was a different sensation, one where I had lots of things to say but no way of expressing them. I could, if asked, talk on the topic for a long time and draw all the sources I needed to express what was going on in my head. Instead, I just sat there,
“Where do I begin? How do I say…?”
I tried writing everything out in mind map. I tried speaking ideas into a dictaphone. I tried asking questions in a philosophical argument structuring way. I thought about how I write blogs, sermons and other creative writing exercises and then it occurred to me…
I had forgotten how to do it.
It seemed that, having stopped being creative, I actually stopped being able to be creative.
Creativity, for me, is participation in the life of God. Is everyone creative? No. Is that because they can’t be? No. It’s because they choose not to be. I don’t mean this in a condemnatory manner. Creativity is available to us all, i.e. the life of God is available to us all and some choose to participate and others don’t.
Creativity can borrow language of faith here. If you choose not to participate in a relationship with God you will discover that you can’t relate to God. You will find it difficult to understand any possibility of having a relationship with God. This then becomes your barrier to having that relationship with God which was available to you before. You then begin to say “I can’t have a relationship with God” as if it was a question of logic. I would say that anyone can have a relationship with God but some don’t want to and choose not to. So instead of saying “I can’t” (which I believe to be a fallacy) one can only say “I don’t want to/ choose not to.”
No one can say “I can’t be creative.” The perception is too timeless for it to be correct. You may not be able to be creative now but you can be creative because you are human and creativity is a possibility for all. You choose not to be creative and so it is difficult for you to see you being creative, you have forgotten how to be creative.
Trying to stay on track before I spurt out all my dissertation research…
Creativity, like a relationship with God, is made possible via a choice. This choice opens up both a growth in a competency as you allow the ‘creative power’ to move you and a transformation in self perception as you allow the process of creativity to impact your view of yourself from ‘non-creative’ to ‘creative’. We are correct when we say “I am not creative” but the understanding of what that term means is wrong. Ontologically we are not creative; we are but dust. We are able to participate in creative acts, however, and so, in the world’s eyes’, we can ‘be creative’.
What I experienced was a forgetting of how to be creative. I could have started to believe I was incapable of being creative. This would have led to a death to that which excites me and brings a sense of life to me. Creativity is, at its most profound, the participation in life. Not existence but life. Life as the quickening of the heart, the discovery of purpose, the eyes opening to dazzling beauty. The truth is many have forgotten how to participate in life and they believe this is not available to them. I believe they have just forgotten.
As a Christian I see participation in creativity as the same thing as my participation in God. For Creativity gives me life and the product of that creative process seems to give life to others. The fruits of creativity inspire others to participate in creativity. Many feel they cannot move beyond the desire to participate because they ‘can’t’.
You can and you must.