on creativity and play

While I was still a full time (plus) employee – at any level in the organization that I served – I relied upon ideas which seemed to come to me when I was listening, reading or attempting to figure out how to do something better. Whether it was an employee problem, a business process inefficiency or failure, or an organizational concern, self generation was in play, and I didn’t even know it. Unconscious creativity, maybe? Of course, anything that is self generated needs an opportunity to be evolved through sharing with another who can provide perspective, feedback, additional “meat for the bones”, or to facilitate the abandonment of an idea or thought for reasons which make sense.

When I first encountered the quintessential question about creativity (you know, whether I am or I have “it”); I thought immediately of one of my sisters who is quite a good artist. Whether using pencils or charcoal to sketch, oils or watercolors on canvas, she has created some lovely images. So, of course, my answer to this question was, “No, I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” I had no appreciation for or knowledge of the origin of creativity or the myriad ways in which it is expressed. Today, I see clearly that creativity was very much a part of my being for my entire life, including during those years of busyness.

I have tried quite a few things that fall under my previous definition of creativity, including playing with water colors, colored pencils and doing a bit of art journaling, as a part of an on-line class offered by Brene Brown a few years ago. I had some fun with it and still wish to return to it from time to time. I haven’t quite gotten there yet.

Unused creativity is not benign–it metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame. We are creative beings. We are by nature creative. It gets lost along the way. It gets shamed out of us.

-Brene’ Brown

I have always been (and still am) a very serious person. The idea of play hasn’t ever come easy for me. When my sons were very young, play was fairly easy for a brief time, and then it was back to serious “mom” stuff. To say that I have always taken life seriously, is an understatement. In fact, I have always been someone who felt that the “work” had to be completed before any “fun” could begin. And of course, the “work” never really gets to a place where “finished” can be declared and play can begin. I’ve noticed that my being serious even spills into some of the creative things that await my attention even now. Whether I feel a need to organize (over-organize) before I begin or that perfectionist, still lurking around in my mind, is attempting to steer my efforts, I find that just getting started can be the most challenging step to take at times!

I am grateful to work with a Spiritual Director who listens and asks the deep questions that cause me to stop and really consider what may be going on within. She recently asked me two powerful questions that I continue to observe in myself – my choices; and to reflect on regarding past experiences; and to write answers to in my journal on a fairly regular basis.

  • Where in my life do I need to “lighten up?” 
  • Am I making things harder than I have to? 

Reflecting on these questions, so many different feelings, habits, and other such things are bubbling up for me to see and to consider what shifts are essential in this period of my life. Is it any wonder that play and creativity are present in my mind these days?

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
Alan Watts

I can conclude from Watts’ words that presence is at the heart of creative play.

As I continue to reflect on my questions and find my way back, again and again, to the creative play that is always waiting for me, I invite you to examine your owns experience. I’ve learned that when something isn’t fun or doesn’t enliven or lighten my heart, it becomes work and should probably be set aside for a time, if not abandoned. And…I know that this…this blog, this writing that all of us who choose to be in this space…is creative.

 

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

—Mary Oliver