Why We Need to Create
Babies old enough to grip a crayon will naturally rub it across a surface once they are shown how. I still hold my breath whenever I see this happen; they will pause, then do it again, pause, and again, until the realisation hits them: They made marks. And then they usually throw themselves into making more and more marks with utter abandon. They are immersed completely—transported by the act of creation.
Yet I’ve never heard the compliment of “You’re so creative!” as often as I do now among adults. The words are usually infused with a type of awe, as if it’s a rare gift bestowed only to a chosen few. All of us have that gift. All of us started with that gift! Carried into aduthood, creativity and passion are our most powerful tools for manifesting the dreams that we have. How we use those tools is as individual and unique as we are.
The natural joy in creation discovered in childhood goes beyond writing, drawing, and painting. Creation, as far as I cover in this book, is producing something from our imaginations that didn’t exist in our lives before. The first step in taking an idea towards reality is usually a list or a sketch. The bigger the idea, the bigger the sketch. Changing our lives would take a really big sketch. It takes more work, but so does anything worth doing.
But most adults have become afraid of the empty page. I’ve seen this in my workshops where I employ artmaking for meditation or self-discovery—and the larger the paper, the more nervous
participants may become! Even as an artist, I know the feeling.
All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
When we were little, activities that may have brought us joy, like drawing, shaping clay, or writing stories, the simplest activities of creating, likely met with conditional approval from the adults around us. We were judged. Graded. Compared (negatively) with others. Told what we did wrong or where we were slow. It diminished our sense of accomplishment, possibly even shamed us from wanting to continue.
Even people who grew up in seemingly supportive environments can be discouraged from personal creative efforts—if they were constantly given empty praise lacking actual attention to their work. Researchers have found that children do feel the difference between empty praise and honest compliments.
If our early, natural instincts of creating for the pure joy of it were not supported, we may “lose” a powerful tool and piece of ourselves that is actually necessary for achieving the lives and dreams we really want. Shutting down our deepest wants and desires may have brought acceptance in our childhood, but will carry on yielding dissatisfaction in our lives even if we’ve done everything “right”. If you hold this book, you know it’s time to listen to your heart and create from there.
So let’s start.