I love the creative process. I love hearing about how people got to the finished song or came up with the idea and see it through. I am seeing so many people connect with their creativity during this time of COVID. From decorating their apartments, cooking beautiful meals, gardening, writing songs and stories, singing and making funny memes.
I love it because I believe in that process. I believe in how it can help us heal and move forward and make more sense of life, especially when it’s hard. I think we can also feel like what’s the point. Does creativity really help? What does it really accomplish?
When I was younger I used to write a lot of music. From age 16 to around 26, I spent a lot of time doing things that fed my creativity.
Even at that time I had an up and down relationship with creativity.
I was so driven to it. I loved it. It felt like a way of pulling me through my struggles as a teenager and in my early twenties. On the other hand it often felt like something that was unnecessary, frivolous or even pointless. It started to feel like it took me away from getting “important’ things accomplished.
As I got older and had a family and career and bills and other things pulling me, I let go of a lot of that creative part of me.
As I got older, I continued to struggle with depression and anxiety, and realized that part of my journey out was to start connecting with that piece in me that needed to express; that needed to connect with the painful piece creatively. Sometimes words and thinking it through aren’t enough. Sometimes moving in to it in an abstract way is healing.
Creativity can be like a meditation. It can be a way of focusing us on something else and actually finding hope or beauty in the middle of our pain.
Sometimes when we struggle, we focus so much on the way we’re feeling powerless to the struggle.
Creativity can be a way of focusing our energies into something. It can even be empowering when we can’t find a solution. Creativity is a way in. A byproduct of that may be a shifting of the stuckness, or at least the energy of it, or the way we look at it.
Just like a byproduct of going for a run may clear my head, but there is also something else. I am engaging with a part of who I am. When I run I am engaging with part of me that feels healthy and strong. When I engage with creativity I connect with a big piece of who I am. I am opening to that and acknowledging that part of what makes me me. That is important.
I’ve learned to lean in to creativity when I feel stuck or blocked. It may even be frustrating or even feel worse in a way, because creativity is not problem solving in the way that finishing a project is. When I clean a bathroom, hang a picture, make my bed or pay a bill I know when I’ve completed it. With creativity there is not necessarily an obvious finished product.
I feel that creativity can move me in a new direction.
Creativity helps us remember that we deserve to be seen. We remind ourselves that we matter. I am seeing so many people sharing what they are doing these days. It doesn’t have to be a master piece. We are saying to the world “hey, I’m alive”. It can be life affirming. It is a way that we as people connect and find out who we are and feel seen and heard. We don’t always know the impact that we have in inspiring others
Creativity helps parts of us feel expressed. We may not feel like we are of the same caliber as a professional artist, but it doesn’t have to be about that. Maybe there is space to just have something that we have done be expressed. I have written many things that I have never put out there. What I am learning is that maybe it’s not my job to decide if it’s the perfect time to put it out there. Maybe the sharing is the piece that I need. Maybe it just needs to be expressed. Maybe it’s not the absolute best thing I’ve ever done, but maybe even allowing yourself to be vulnerable in that is healing for you. I know it has been for me. We don’t have to control every aspect of it. We don’t have to know how it’s going to be seen or even how good it is. Putting it out there is the difference between an idea or a dream and actually moving it through.
Creativity helps us to heal. It becomes cathartic to move something through. To create a meal and spend time planning and thinking it through and caring for it as you make it, and then sharing it with someone or even really truly enjoying it yourself. There is something life giving and affirming of life in that.
Consider all that goes into creating a garden — planning what will be planted where, getting the dirt ready, planting, watering, paying attention to what it needs, caring for the plants, helping them, and then months later seeing the fruit of our labours. It’s not just the joy from the fully grown plant. There can also the connection and healing in getting in to the dirt and connecting with something.
With creativity we become better versions of ourselves. We grow by leaning in to the process. We grow by seeing it through. Trying. Working it out. Figuring it out.
Creativity is also a service to humanity. We all need each other. We inspire each other. We make each other laugh. As Ram Dass says, “we are all just walking each other home.”
Creativity is not frivolous or unimportant. It is life giving, life affirming, healing, inspiring, empowering.
Step in. Lean in. It doesn’t have to be perfect, ground breaking or earth shattering.
It can just be a glimpse in to you. You deserve to be seen.
Nate Torhjelm is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor (RTC #2443) with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada (ACCT). He is a graduate of Clearmind International Institute with a diploma in Transpersonal Therapeutic Counselling.