Discovering Creativity

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

Image via Wikipedia

Some people are born with the creative fire. They can’t help themselves. Whatever form their art takes, be it painting, dance, music, writing, or something else, they just can’t stop. Are you one of those people? If you are I am supremely jealous, but your numbers are small. Most people have to fan the flames more than a little bit.

As a child, I took piano and flute lessons, but I never wrote my own music unless forced. I liked art, but I was so bad that I eventually decided I hated it. I never thought I was creative enough to write and my one attempt at ballet at the age of eight ended in total humiliation. I looked fat in that leotard and I couldn’t get my leg up on the bar or do pliées and turns without falling over. So I read other people’s books, played the music on the page, and stayed far away from all of that humiliating dance and painting. If I did do art, it was paint-by-numbers. I got really good at staying in the lines.

I believe that all humans have an innate need to create, so mine was just hidden, way way deep in the bowels of nowhere. It eventually surfaced, perhaps when I decided I had to do something about my posture and I signed up for a modern dance class. We were asked to (oh no!) improvise. Since I couldn’t do anything else without getting my feet all tangled, I actually felt relieved when we got to this portion of the hour and half and could stop trying to contort our bodies into impossible positions. A few years later, a boyfriend decided that I had to stop being so ridiculously analytical, and handed me an exacto knife and a pile of colored paper and glue. Pretty soon, I was making fun little art pieces. I started improvising music (and boy was I terrible, but I didn’t care so long as no one could hear me) and doing more dance improv.

When I lived in Ames, Iowa, I had the opportunity to join a local chapter of No Limits for Women in the Arts, which was (is? I can’t seem to find a current reference to this organization, so maybe it doesn’t exist any more) based upon co-counseling. There were about six members. We met once a month or so, to talk about our progress, or lack thereof, and why we were getting stuck. Every once in a while, we had a potluck where we each had to share some form of art. I improvised on flute or choreographed dances. They did visual art or writing. We cried a lot, but we also had fun. Doing art sure brought up all of the ways in which our lives didn’t work. I have to admit, it was the first time in my life where I really bonded with other women, but that is a whole different story.

Are you getting the idea that I was slower than slow when it comes to creativity? Here comes the really great part. I got this idea, I don’t know where, that I would sign up for some summer workshops at the Naropa Institute in Boulder. I took a theater improv class, life drawing (where on earth did I get the guts to do that?), and at least one other art class, along with a couple of killer self-improvement workshops from Sam Keen and Anna Halprin. I meditated in different colored rooms.  I had an absolute blast. That was an expensive vacation, but so worth it.

There are so many ways to nourish creativity. Our local community college offers all kinds of fun art classes to the public (at a reasonable price). It feeds the soul to try things, even if you find out you have no aptitude for them (like me and drawing).

What about you? What have you tried? In what ways are you creative?

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