On Creation and Inspiration

A strange thought came to me while perusing Pinterest. Scrolling through post after post of creations from crafts to photographs to desserts, it struck me. It has been quite some time since I have had the inspiration and motivation to create. I can easily recall a time in my life when this was not the case.

As a kid I was always in the midst of some scheme I had concocted, in the throws of a project I was trying to figure out, or ruminating on how to make something, anything. When this drive went missing I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it was swallowed by other commitments that seemed more important at the time. Homework, research, second guessing, a new social life, the distractions of ever encroaching technology, a slow development of apathy that began as a teenager could all be culprits.

Sure I have created things since childhood, but that excitement and joy at the beginning stages of creation seems all but lost. My creations seem more out of a sense of duty, lacking any true inspiration, the desire and love that comes with fulfilling that image in your head. These images in my head would plague me when I was young. Creating art was a place where my stubborn personality was an asset, rather than a frustration for everyone around me. I would fixate on an image in my mind and feel utterly consumed with making the vision materialize. I would become frustrated, angry, and upset when this image wasn’t exactly as I envisioned. I had little patience with myself either. Parts of this frustration resurface when I draw to this day. However, it has morphed and become layered.

Now the problem isn’t only that my creation is not measuring up to the image I have in my mind, but that there is no image to critique it against. There is a complete lack of visualization. To write this down is suddenly scary. Where did all those visualizations go? Are they still there but perhaps more complex than I once imagined? The visuals may not be as simple as they were when I was young. Instead of visualizing some cute little animal as a detailed but static image (as I vividly remember doing while sitting in the bathtub as a child), now I think of ideas: desire, experience, perception, misunderstandings, friendship, relationship, peace, comfort, belonging. These abstractions are no longer easily depicted. Maybe that comes with the development of your mind.

How do I get back that spark of creativity when the images don’t present themselves to me anymore? I wonder if they are really gone forever and that spark and excitement of creation is lost once one crosses the threshold into adolescence. Perhaps that innocent but driving creative force becomes muted. I hope this is not the case entirely because it sure would be nice to experience it again. The feeling of being lost for hours on end in creation is not forgotten, but like being lead around with a blindfold on I’m not sure how to get back to where it began.

Do you still have that spark of creation? Where do you think it comes from?

On vulnerability

In reaction to this very powerful TED talk I watched just today, here are my most recent, and personally vulnerable thoughts on vulnerability:

There are things in my life which I thought would be in place right now. I thought I would be different. But I’m not. I thought there was a certain way I should be. But I’m not. There is a part of me that does not feel worthy of any of this life. Part of me also thinks I deserve better. That part of me wants to be better to deserve happiness and love and any of the good in life. As I am right now maybe I don’t feel like I deserve any of it. That it is all out of my reach. That as I am I am not worthy. I didn’t think it was true until I wrote it. I don’t think I am worthy of the good in life at the state I am now. I am fundamentally messed up in some way. That is what I have thought my entire life. Something in me is different. Sometimes it is fun to think I am utterly unique and separate. Really, it just makes me feel lonely and ostracized. I have always felt that something about me just didn’t fit. I never fully belong. I tried and still try to force myself to. To be someone that everyone else likes. To say the right things at the right time. To drink, to smoke, to laugh, to make fun of, to do things I know are wrong, to make other people comfortable at the expense of myself. All in an effort for approval. How childish! How immature! How do I move past this? Where do I get the courage to be myself? I thought I didn’t know who I was, but that’s not true. I think I know exactly who I am underneath all of this. I think I’ve known this entire time, but I didn’t think she was good enough. She wasn’t cool enough. She was lame. She was pathetic. She was VULNERABLE. Sure, I have developed and changed over the years, but she was always in there. Always uncomfortable when things were getting weird. She knows. She knows that things aren’t right. She tries to warn me. She tries to tell me what is right. I push her down, tell her she is a prude. She cares too much. She is a weirdo and no one will ever like her if she keeps acting that way. She isn’t scared. The real me isn’t scared. This thing I have created is scared to let her shine. This “me” I’ve tried to create is blocking her. She is imprisoned under this weird personality I have concocted. When I thought I was getting to know myself I was just testing different ways to stifle her. I was just testing out every tool I could to make her shut up. She is patient. She never left me. She is still underneath all of it. I’m still scared to let her out. I still don’t think I believe she is cool enough, or fun enough, or acceptable. She’s too serious. She thinks too much. There is a darkness and sadness to her. There is hurt there. There is VULNERABILITY to her. I do know she is beautiful. I’ve covered her up. This is the ugliness I see in myself. It seems so clear now. These layers I’ve created to mask her beauty. To hide her soft spots. God, can I wipe the layers away? Chip at them? She has been hiding for too long. She deserves a chance to shine.

Some thoughts swirling around my head lately…

Do you ever feel like there must have been somewhere in your life where you went wrong? There has to be some reason why you ended up this way. In this way you didn’t think and didn’t want your life to become. When did you decide that it was all right to go down this path? There was some point along the way when the fear and the terror and the pain and the heartache was too much and you decided that to shirk away was the easiest, the only comfortable, the only reasonable solution at the time. There was no strength in you to do anything different. There were other options out there, sure. The thing is, they didn’t seem like options at the time. All you could see was there was comfort in running away, in hiding. It was the only way you thought you could survive, the only way if you were going to go on living. The other option was death. Death of yourself. Death of the you that you know. Death of that part of you that you see when you look in the mirror, the part you recognize. Then you decide that the you that is looking back at you isn’t the person you ever wanted to be. You let yourself make decisions that you never thought you would make in a million years. You let yourself get away with things you wouldn’t have imagined in your wildest childhood fantasies. Some of these things are miraculous, most of them mundane and not so remarkable. Or are they? Is making it this far the real remarkable feat? Even if you did hide away, are you brave enough to realize it? You want to live your life. The life you imagined. You’ve dug yourself into this hole and it feels like so many years have gone by and you haven’t even noticed. What have you to show for them? Have you really changed at all? A great measure is needed to live your life, to be able to move forward anymore. A tidal shift has to occur. But you are afraid if you are ready for it. You didn’t seem to be ready for it before. What makes now any different? How many times have you tried? The many times you called it trying and gave a half-assed effort at making things different. Anything different. Always failing but not in any real way because you never stuck yourself out there. You never became fully vulnerable. You never stuck your neck out far enough where you couldn’t jerk it back in a second’s notice. Sure, there is bravery in that. But those are only the first steps. It is time to put it all on the line. Time to stick your neck out and let it get chopped off if it’s going to. Stop jerking back. Getting your head cut off is the worst that could happen. What would be left? Would you be any more damaged than you have made yourself? Stop fearing the death of yourself. Stop thinking that it will be your demise. It has to be your death, but it will also be your rebirth.