I’m currently riding the high of a rare cup of half decaf cappuccino and overflowing with energy after a very inspiring conversation with my new roomie in L.A. about telling stories that empower us. I couldn’t wait to get to my Mac to see what words were going to spill out onto the page. This isn’t always the case, but I’ve recently given myself the gift of a renewed commitment to writing for the simple sake of writing, and the excitement I just described is undoubtedly due, in large part, to that perspective.
As a lover of transformation and someone who discovered my passion for creativity relatively late in life (that’s a story, too, but I’m cool with it), I can unequivocally say that nothing brings me greater joy than witnessing people reclaim their power and returning to the truth of who they are. Throw creative expression in the mix, and I’m buying a front row seat ticket every time and doing whatever I can to assist in the process.
One of my greatest teachers in the art of becoming aware of limiting beliefs and patterns is Julia Cameron, known mostly for The Artist’s Way—a book for anyone with a curiosity about self-expression and an indispensable gem in the collection of anyone walking the creative path.
Julia has taught millions of people how to reclaim their creativity—which she suggests is one of our fundamental birthrights as human beings—by intentionally making space in our consciousness and in our real lives for our true nature as spiritual beings and our true voices as artists to emerge. The way we do this is by taking the pressure off and consciously clearing away any blocks or stories that might be stifling our complete freedom to express, with no concern for consequence or outcome.
In my experience as a songwriter, writer, dabbler in visual art, and overall serial creative, I’ve discovered the wisdom of this approach and have come to believe that one of the most simple and fundamental ways we can do this is by making art, creating, and playing the game of life for the pure love of it.
As soon as we have an agenda, an achievement, or some shiny object we’re out to bring to fruition, the creative process can be stunted and easily overshadowed by the end game.
Writing a song because we love writing or we want to follow an idea down the rabbit hole and see where it goes leads to a very different experience than writing to win a Grammy. Toss in the added pressure of needing that goal to be realized—because if we don’t, our career will have failed to meet our expectation or that of others—and we can quickly lose our access to any sort of real connection to what we’re doing. Similarly, showing up at our desktop everyday because we have to finish our book in order to have the credibility of being a “real writer” is very different than making time for the blank page because we’re so in love with the dance of words that flows when we are open to it.
You see what I mean, jellybean?
Now, I know some of you may be thinking that this is an idealistic approach and that there are bills to be paid, things that need to get done, and that, especially for many working creatives and entrepreneurs, it’s all very serious business. And, of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a game plan to keep us focused, an aspiration to keep us motivated, and an objective to work towards.
The challenge arises, however, when these things become the sole or dominant driving force behind what we do. The joy vanishes, the love fades, and the experience becomes reduced to treating that which is sacred and beautiful to a mere means to an end.
I’m not proposing that we do away with the practical aspects of creating, entrepreneur’ing (look Ma, I made up a word), or living in this world, but I am suggesting that we constantly bring ourselves back to the thing which matters most and which transcends power, money, fame, success, and all the “out there” stuff we get so caught up and attached to.
When it comes to creativity, what matters most is the simple joy we get from creating. Period.
Whether it’s singing, dancing, painting, writing, gardening, rhyming, filming, photographing, cooking, surfing, putting, running, shooting 3s (yes, playing sports are an expression of creativity, too), or designing lamp shades, it’s all about doing that thing we do because we love doing it and because it’s a natural expression of who we are. And where life is concerned, what matters most is experiencing the sweet and pure love of being alive and celebrating our existence by savoring the juicy goodness of exactly where we’re at and what is unfolding in this present moment.
For many of us, this is easier said than done, and it requires a little bit of rewiring. The first step is to acknowledge where you’re at and start from right there with a whole lotta love and acceptance. Whether you’re completely new to creativity or you’re a well-seasoned veteran, notice what feeling you’re bringing to the process. The same approach applies to any other area of your life where you’re feeling disconnected from why you’re in it or why you’re doing it. Could be your career, your relationships, your volunteer work, or anywhere in your life where you’re investing your energy (i.e. creating), and the fulfillment just isn’t there.
All there is to do is find a way to connect to the joy and love of it. For a long-time touring musician who has played sold-out stadiums, that could be playing a coffee house to a thin crowd of people who have no idea whom they’re listening to. For a hesitant painter, it could be a trip to the art store to explore what colors excite. For a couple that has lost the luster in a long relationship, it might be a much needed date night to get the romance flowing and come back to love. The golden rule is that it has to FEEL GOOD.
Follow the joy, the inspiration, the love, and the feeling-goodness wholeheartedly, and the rest will take care of itself, including, in all likelihood, all that “out there” stuff we tend to over-focus on.
Do it for the love of it. You can’t go wrong.