In the beginning – there was nothingness. Then – BANG!! the Universe (or Multiverse, if you’re so inclined) was created. It doesn’t really matter how it was created, as folks all over our world differ widely in their beliefs about how it came about. What matters is the creative act – that something made the Universe, be it a chemical reaction or a conscious act, and that creation led to everything we know and experience around us. The creation of the Universe was, to many people, an act of divinity.
Now, for many of us, the creative act has become a passion, a calling, a pursuit, an obsession. We create to reflect the life around us, to rejoice in it, to remake it in our own image. We even create to make… more of US! But is creation an imitation of the divine, an attempt to achieve divinity, or divinity itself?
Yes, we do have the power, the “old fashioned way” or through scientific intervention, to create life. But for most people, when they think “creativity,” they think of some sort of artistic talent – painting, writing, pottery, interior design, knitting a sweater, dancing, etc. It’s basically manipulating ordinary materials, or thoughts, to create something worthwhile – the artist’s gift to our world from what was once a void.
It saddens me that so often we equate “talent” with creativity. We feel that if the product of our creativity isn’t hanging in a museum or broadcast on television or reported in the newspaper, it’s not art. So many people think they have no talent. “I can’t draw.” “I am tone deaf.” “I’m all thumbs.” “I’m color blind.” “I have two left feet.” I believe this negative self-criticism is a product of an educational system that grades the efforts of children in art classes based on a standardized idea of following the “rules” of artistic expression (to me, a contradiction in terms), and having someone tell them whether their creation is worthy. Can you think of a more damaging process? Absolutely creativity-killing.
As a result, there are a number of folks who are extremely talented, but can’t see it. It’s easy in our results-oriented world to see success only in the end product of our creativity – the creation itself. If we aren’t satisfied what we’ve created, or if someone else doesn’t like it, then we feel it’s somehow “not good enough” to be art. But what we fail to realize is that the creative process itself – the making, and even the planning of the creation – is creation! I’ve had a novel in the making for decades. I’ve had three non-fiction books rumbling around in my head for almost as long. Does that make me a writing failure? Not on your life! I’ve done a lot of creating during the time I’m spending ruminating on my finished products – even if they are still decades away from fruition. After all, the apple tree is on its way to becoming a pie the moment the seed is planted.
Some folks believe that all creative acts come from Spirit. The idea is that creation comes through us, from another source, not from us. If we are accepting and open to the breath of creation, it will flow. It assumes that we do not have the knowledge or skill or imagination to bring forth artistic creation, and that thinking we do is the height of arrogance. This theory says that anything that we create is a result of tapping into the wisdom of the Universe and acting as a channel for the creative force of the divine. It assumes that we are simply lowly life forms, and therefore, by definition, not capable of creation of any sort – only a “superior” being can create.
I disagree, and, in fact, believe the opposite is true. I believe that each and every one of us is a part of the divine. I believe that we have in us a spark of the creative life essence – that together, we make up the Spirit of the Universe. When we create, we continue the act from whence the Universe began, and through our efforts, remake the world around us every day. The more we learn and grow, the more the Universe evolves. Day by day, our divinity moves our collective experience closer and closer to the ultimate realization of the purpose of our existence.
For the month of July, I will live and work among some of the greatest youthful artistic minds in the country, at Maine Arts Camp. These campers recognize the spark within themselves, and accept that they and their ideas will lead the next generation of creation. I will teach, yes, but I will also learn so much from watching the creative force flowing from instructor to student, student to instructor, student to student and instructor to instructor. Together, we are creation. And that is sublime.