Thursday, September 6, 2007
Creative Work is Not a Luxury
Since I closed Studio Pardes about four years ago, my last foray into a public presence, I have accepted that writing is my primary work in the world and I have accepted that everything else, no matter how worthy, must arrange itself around that center for me to function well.
Today there is a mixture of cooler air beginning to infiltrate the muggy heaviness of Oak Park in August, the promise of sweaters just hinting. I have been writing every morning for three hours for about a year now, so I am able to keep some commitments, even if I can’t get myself to blog every week. That little bit of cool air started me thinking about my relationship to my creative work and the balance with other work in the world that we all try to do, whether its volunteering at a homeless shelter, picking up trash on a daily walk, or calling our congress people on a regular basis and participating in the democracy. It can sometimes seem like creative work is somehow an indulgence and work done directly in service to others or the world more ‘serious’ or important.
Lisa Longworth, a fellow artist and writer and I have been sharing our reflections on the balance of work as ‘engaged artists’ (to borrow from the engaged Buddhists). Neither of us is content to be alone in our studios and feel no connection to the world but our efforts to be ‘activist artists’ have been less than satisfying. (I’ll speak for myself, if you want to learn more about what Lisa is thinking, visit her terrific website and blog.)
Here’s my thought of the day on the subject: without a strong anchor in my own creative work, the energy that belongs there, which is really powerful stuff, the white light-straight-from-the-Source, gets stuffed into whatever the vehicle at hand is, a committee meeting at my temple, a volunteer bake sale, or even a casual lunch with a friend.
At times when I have not been plugged into the creative work I am called to in a daily, disciplined way, the energy can also ‘leak’ into life in general and causes intensity, emotional drama, and unnecessary conflicts and struggles with those around me.
The problem with creative energy is that it requires transformation in order to be shared successfully and a little goes a long way. Creative work, in whatever form we are called to it, is not a luxury but is the basis of life. It constitutes my relationship with the Source and if that relationship is not in order, we tend to seek substitutes in people, substances, and things.
This may seem like a pretty basic insight from someone with, oh, I don’t know, about thirty-five years of experience and education in art therapy, but there you go.
- ▼ 2007 (10)