I didn't notice the sheer void of creativity in my life. Probably as it was hidden by countless other distractions in the form of TV, internet, shopping, food, alcohol, conversation etc. All of which can be great fun but fall into an entirely different category that reaches outwards instead of inwards. Then one rainy day at a beach in New Zealand all that changed.
I'd met a guy: shaggy hair, no shoes, living in his van (you know the type). I asked him when the weather's bad and there's no surf if he got bored. I felt slightly ashamed when he answered no. He would draw or play guitar. It instantly struck me that I didn't create anything anymore. Unless you count creating humour, good times and bloody marvellous company of course. I realised at some point during my school years I'd slowly stopped. Although it hadn't been a conscious decision, I must have felt there was no point. No qualifications would come from it, no advancements in my "career path".
At an age where I can clearly see the error in this, I asked myself what was holding me back now. The instant thought: I probably wouldn't be very good. But does it matter if what I create doesn't have value? Isn't creation, partially at least, about the process rather than just the finished result?
Spurred on by these thoughts I bought myself some pastels and paper and started creating my little heart out. I can't draw. I'm not exactly four year old stick-man bad, but I can honestly say I don't have a natural talent. Despite this I would wake up and sit on the beach to watch the rising sun whilst I scribbled away.
I got so into it that I thought it would be really lovely if I made this guy something. It's the same enthusiastic innocence that encourages your kids to come home from school with all kinds of shit they've knocked together. It may look like a toilet roll stuck to an empty ice cream tub but you know it's their effort, care and thought given to you because they're excited to share this creation (and also given to you because no-one else would take that crap home).
Before I continue with this tale, you need to remember that I'd just started exploring my dream catcher, tie dye, travelling hippy vibes. I'd been looking at an art book which showed how life spirals (yes, life spirals...what of it?!) had been depicted in artwork throughout different cultures for centuries. At the same time I'd been reading a book about the impermanence of all moments in life. So I naturally jumped to the conclusion what better way to mark our meeting than decorating a pebble, from the beach we were living on, with his life spiral (in 2 shades of blue and inspired by the ocean) my life spiral (which was green and inspired by...er...the fact I like green and had 2 different shades of it in my pastel pack: deep I know) and a smaller life spiral representing the present moment where the two join (I think this was red and purple, and why not, I'm sure you'll agree they are both jolly nice colours and just as good as any for embarrassing yourself with).
I will warn you now, if you're trying to maintain a cool image, it's not advisable to give a sentimentally decorated pebble as a gift to someone you have either A) only recently met or B) kissed. Certainly NEVER when both A and B apply. Apparently there is a chance it can give the wrong impression. Although a part of him clearly feared I was crazy, in love with him and about to suggest we move in together, I think deep down (really deep down) he liked it.
The truth is it didn't matter, and not just because he lived at the other side of the world. It didn't matter because I'd created something from an honest place. I didn't share it because I thought it was good (I mean...clearly...it was a rock with chalk on it) I shared it as an expression of something genuine. I shared it in the full knowledge it's a vulnerable thing to do (because you look mental). By choosing to share that vulnerability I felt empowered. He'd inspired me to start creating again and was treated to the full power of this expression. Lucky him.
The good news is you don't have to publicly humiliate yourself to get in touch with your creative side. You can do it in any form that feels good. Music, drawing, journalling, poetry, dance, photography, gardening, woodwork, cooking, knitting...it doesn't really matter. Create not because you have a talent but create purely for creations sake. If you want to, and you can, I would urge you to share. Not for acceptance, but share purely for the human connection in doing so. There's a chance some people will judge you, but that is about them and not you. When it comes from the heart it has so much more power than carefully measured forms of expression. If you are bold enough to share it may even unexpectedly touch someone else. In a world where we are so driven by a desire to save face and portray the best image of ourselves we need this honest expression more now than ever.
Since then I'm still drawing, although admittedly more on paper than rocks these days. Laziness and apathy get in the way but I'm still trying to squeeze out little drops of my version of truth through expressive movement, writing, and photography. Some of which I share and some of which are just for me. I am still trying to water those tiny seedlings of creativity that are finally starting to sprout again after years of neglect. Oh and several months later the guy in question emailed me and said he still had my pebble. Ha! In your face everyone. I knew he liked it really.