Cultural Creatives – thinking outside the box

A student of mine came to me and asked, “Why is it that people do not know they are artists?”  And it became obvious that the description of artist is limited in most people’s minds to the ability to draw.  “I am no artist, I can’t even draw a straight line.”  “PS neither can I, I use a ruler!”   We have become so focused on titles as a representation of what and who we are.  An accountant adds numbers in columns and balances sheets.  A janitor picks up garbage and cleans bathrooms.  We don’t see beyond the title… Artist is not a title, it’s a way of life.  I would go so far as to say the word “human = artist.” 

We have these amazing things called thumbs.  This made us creative and helped us to adapt to the changing conditions of the forest and savannahs where we evolved.  We used to have the same thing on our feet, but lost this when we stopped climbing about a million years ago.  At any rate, between the thumb and our increased memory, we are creative, highly adaptable people.  Yet even this has been submitted to the will of the repetitious and the boring to the point we are convinced we are not creative at all.  Who made that choice for us?  This is what I call the predator, the repetitious being that farms us into exact replicas of each other, removing our fundamental creativity.   

Historically, I blame the industrial revolution and the factory system with big bankers behind all it all – which is an extension of the slave system that predated it.  When we moved in this direction with factories (paper making factories were first), labor became defined with the limited perspective of what we do and not who we are.  We are creative beings, we adapt.  It was our ability to adapt and our general weakness in the face of our environment, combined with our connection to each other and the stories we tell ourselves that allowed us to survive when stronger creatures who were more suited to those old environments could not adapt as the earth rapidly changed with time.  Many are not aware that this ability got us through a severe ice age when our numbers dropped to almost 2000 people worldwide – yes 35,000 years ago! Not that long when you think in terms of the earth.  So creativity is critical in these days.

As a spiritual warrior, early on in my life it became obvious that the creative and intuitive are the keys to life.  I have not been a working artist for long.  But I have always thought of myself as a creative artistic person.  As a teacher, I could never teach the same subject the same way twice.  Not only was this boring to me, I believe I was not adapting to the needs of my students as they were learning.  Learning and development are a creative process in the brain, so repetition, beyond memorization, is frightfully boring.  Have you ever noticed that our culture replaces repetitious actions with machines?  And is it accurate that memorization of dates and events makes us truly understand history???  We should be aware of this, and maybe even cautious of this.  The deindustrialization of the 1st world countries and the general re-tooling that goes with this, our current recession, are part of real and good change… but does this mean that globally we should just expect other humans in another part to do what we have grown bored of just to keep the first world happy?  I think that is not the creative solution we deserve.

Artistic and creative people know beyond a shadow of a doubt that creativity cannot occur with repetition maintaining its ugly head.  It requires destroying the patterns to see a better way through to the next moment.  Any act of creation begins with an act of destruction.  As a spiritual warrior, this is why I love recapitulation, questioning and challenging perceptions.  It destroys the old and makes way for the new.   What am I missing, where could I create better, where could the world be better or move in a more balanced way.  When we lose our connection to the creative and force people to think that they are not creative, not artists, then we lose our fundamental connection to what it means to be human beings living in the earth.

And yet, I struggle with creativity all the time.  Even as a working artist it is difficult to create new ideas and images.  When one creates them and sells them, there is this expectation that the next thing will be similar.  I recently went into an artist show where there were 80 works on the walls.  Not a one of them were interesting after number 2.  They were almost all the same.  For 80 completely different acts of creation, the artist had basically shifted the same images around or the color of them and had done the exact same thing.  She had become a machine with her work.  I thought of my own work.  It takes me a ton of focus just to complete one book or idea over a series of months.  I like variety… the same thing over and over is plumb boring.  Any repetition at all is where we begin to get antsy… even if you are not getting that way…. Think of your own jobs.  What parts are killing your creativity?  This is why we suffer.  Not because we desire more, but because we are being pushed into a widget hole the same way every day.  Humans need to constantly expand and change. 

We are artists every one of us.  We are artists in our lives, we are artists of our surroundings.  We are artists in partnership with the earth, her resources and her pulse of energy.  When we grab onto this awesome reality of creativity in a balanced manner, we can transform anything.  The way we live, the way we eat, the way we see the world and each other…. All of these things can be creative acts.  All we have to risk is the destruction of what was old, out moded, no longer necessary. 

Even our perception of each other needs to be destroyed and recreated constantly.  A Toltec warrior friend of mine would go around and introduce himself over and over saying, “Wow! it’s nice to meet you.”  This would repeat several times during an evening of conversation.  He was reminding us that we are different in every moment, and that every moment is new, brilliantly creative.  What if we remember this in every comment we make, every perception we have, every action we take. 

We are always new! 

Dare to risk to be something creative… Dare to be an artist every moment of your life.


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