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facing the dark side...
***** Everyone wants to be creative, at least ideally: To employ the imagination and navigate the unknown in order to bring forth something new into existence. Rapture. The feeling of total immersion into a project whereas time itself begins to expand and life, afterall, has meaning. Life has meaning. To be creative is to loose oneself to some greater vision or calling and thereby be Freed. Freed. And, perhaps it is in these moments when we find ourselves closer to the experience of Love than we have ever been before--and without the necessity of a partner.
So if creativity is such a highly prized experience for the human being, why would we ever settle for some mundane existence, chewing vacantly on other people's ideas in a vast world that is seemingly barren of personal meaning?
Cardboard people eating cardboard in a cardboard world.
Though we may aspire towards the creative genius and depth of such artists as Virginia Wolf, Anais Nin, or Georgia O'Keefe, somehow we end up, more times than not, knitting scarves in our living room and realizing, as we go, that this has been our greatest creative expression to date. What is it that holds us back and keeps us from participating in the grand experience? I've thought long about it. The truth is that creativity has a dark side that not everyone wants to live through.
Dropping into the creative realm requires that we meet ourselves in the darkest of places. Imagine great currents of energy running through the body, and unless you can learn to ride them, as a surfer rides a wave through cold waters unflinchingly, you might just find yourself back home, on prozac, with the knitting needles. Pummeled. The wave closes overhead. Feet still aboard. Breathing. Cold. Feet still aboard. And you ride, meeting the moment with presence. And if you're going through hell- your own personalized psycho-physical tsunami nightmare, you're meeting it still.
To be creative is to be insistent on being Whole in a world that asks for nothing more than safe and accepted modes of compliance and dissociation. Easier said than done. I mean, we can hardly accept the throes of Creativity in our significant others. Every girl in online dating will say that she wants her man to be "creative" - full of new and exciting ideas, artistic, on the cutting edge. But when it comes to marriage, how many would opt for the safe and stable salesman over the stormy and moreover chaotic artist, spinning soul. I'm not suggesting that one has to live in the ghetto and ride a skateboard into the 40's to be creative. I'm simply suggesting that in order to drop in to the rhythm of one's creative self, one must have the courage to meet one's own soul. And usually it's just not something that generally tends to be happening on Wall Street.
The dark side of creativity requires one to shrug off status quo modes of operation-- to refrain from the habitual tendency to split off into segregated parts of oneself: mind/body, sad/happy, on/off. To be creative, one must be willing to truly drag the Whole Self through the muck. To gain the experience. To live it without armor. To live inside the body. Embodiment, ensoulment at all costs. Instead of naming and medicating the split off condition at hand, one accepts it as part of the Whole Self. Moves with it. Owns It. To be creative one must be willing to feel the pain, the burn, and the discomfort of being Ensouled. Carl Jung, prophet seer of the twentieth century noticed,
"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their souls. They will practice Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world-all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their souls. Thus the soul has gradually been turned into a Nazareth from which nothing good can come. Therefore let us fetch it from the four corners of the earth-the more far-fetched and bizarre it is the better!"
The dark side of creativity involves a face to face encounter with all the muck, heartbreak, pain, emotional disappointment, and fatigue that would naturally counter and balance the overall Rapture and Exaltation of a life infused by meaning. The problem for most is that we want the Rapture without the rest. We'd like to leap frog over the dark aspects of the creative cycle and arrive at the Creative Self. But it doesn't work. False and unattractive, it looks immediately low on the scale of authenticity and it smells something like Paris Hilton.
Whether youre a singer looking for sound, a writer looking for voice, or a surfer looking to catch a wave, in daily life we must all begin to Embody more and more of these limited moments on earth. To actually be there. Jeannette Winterson, one of my favorite authors, puts it this way, "I realize now that the past does not dissolve like a mirage. I realize that the future, though invisible, has weight. We are in the gravitational pull of past and future. It takes huge energy--speed-of-light-power-- to break that gravitational pull."
And this is why we end up, more times than not, sitting our asses on the couch with those knitting needles. Its just a metaphor, really. I have nothing truly against knitting or its needles. I'm just saying that it's time now to wake up a little more, Stand Up, stare the darkness down, and create the present moment. Go on. Get up. Stare it down. Swallow. Dive. Dig up the meaning for your life.
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