Last week I took myself on a date—an Artist Date.
If you’re anywhere familiar with creativity boosters you probably have heard of it, a golden oldie to renew your creative spark. Developed by Julia Cameron, the Artist Date is a regular (she recommends weekly) date with yourself to explore, play and refuel—to do something that deeply inspires you.
This date can be anything, from visiting a museum (my favorite), going to the movies or hiking some unfamiliar grounds to sitting ourselves down in our favorite coffee shop with zen coloring plates and fun pencils. It’s really a date with ourselves to re-enchant ourselves, wooing our consciousness and refilling ourselves with images and experiences.
Yes, by immersing ourselves in a new, a different situation we’re filling our creative well with inspiration and fresh ideas.
I’m a fan—a huge fan—and I’ve been taking myself on Artist Dates for more than two decades now. No matter my working environment, from the corporate desk to the coaching seat, for me the Artist Date has always turned out to be invaluable to reloading myself.
You see, in my experience, whether we’re an artist crafting art or a worker in the corporate world excelling at managerial and executive tasks, we all draw our fuel to perform and express ourselves from the same well: our inner self. And we all need to replenish that well on a regular basis.
Why do we need to fill the well even if we love what we do?
Because, despite loving what we do, if we don’t refuel, we’ll lose our spark in the midst of it all. Yes, we’ll spread ourselves thin and dry up slowly—almost imperceptibly. Our joy and zest in creating and performing will fade, slipping through our fingers. No matter how much we enjoy the process, how much we delight in the output, artistic or executive, we need a steady and fertile input. And going on the Artist Date does exactly this for us.
So, my last Artist Date was a trip to a tiny natural history museum near my hometown. For a few hours I wandered around the collection of stony relics and colorful stuffed animals—ancient flora and fauna through the ages from all over the word. Special about this collection is that it was brought together a century ago with great love and dedication by one man. Mr. Bernink, a local school teacher lived and breathed his passion for nature and turned his home into this tiny museum.
Walking around glass cabinets and peering at dust-gathering animals—What does that do for your inner-well? I can hear you say. Well, for a few hours I was transported back in time. To a time when exploring the crusts of the earth for our ancestors still made us wonder, brought us awe. To a time when discovering new species still gave us a childlike bewilderment, where our sense of relentless exploration was driven by a genuine desire to comprehend our natural world and its inhabitants, a quest for honest understanding.
This immersion in time, if only for a few hours, filled me with joy and renewed spirit, rekindling my zest for the relentless exploration of my own potential.
At the same time, I was immersed in a space created with palpable love and care. A space created by one man’s honest captivation with our natural world, a space where one man lived out his passion. Being in this space where an everyday man made his dream come through, materializing into his legacy for generations to enjoy through his sheer dedication and passion, I felt moved.
This space touched something at the very core of me: the belief that we’re all here to live the life we’re meant to live, a sacred duty, a holy chore. And this was exactly that what had happened here. In this space a man had lived his life to the fullest—with great love and care.
This Artist Date to a tiny natural history museum was an unexpectedly deep one and left a ripple effect on my creativity for days—exactly what I needed. Traveling back in time into a space where a man’s passionate dreams had come true left me with renewed lust for life and joy to create.
And next time? Maybe something playful, something light, because that’s the joy of the Artist Date—you don’t know in advance, but you’ll get exactly what you need.
That’s why I take myself on an Artist Date—and so should you!
Author: Elles Lohuis
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Christian Senger/Flickr