If I were to give you a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I’m sure you’d mention the usual suspects – perhaps buy a home, pay off your debts, take a holiday, give friends and family some money, donate to a worthy cause… What if you did all that and could spend a year or two doing whatever you wanted to do, with no expectations or obligations to fulfill and only the immediate expenses of day-to-day living? What would you do? Would you travel or start a business? Would you spend your days drawing, painting, dancing? Would you develop a course? Would you play the guitar and sing? Or perhaps begin planning a not-for-profit?
I believe we all come into this world with unique gifts and creative potential. And I also believe that we do ourselves, and others, a great disservice if we do not pursue these gifts. The problem is most of us feel so disconnected from our creativity, we feel as though we missed out on such blessings. And I get it. At times, I have felt completely devoid of any inspiration and desire to create, and at times, this has gone on for months. But this isn’t because it isn’t there, my mental space was simply caught up in the mundane, soul draining daily responsibilities. No wonder we feel unable to pursue our craft when we are thinking bills, money and meetings. And not to mention the folks chained to a desk all day long. By the end of the day any mental energy left is usually spent mindlessly scrolling through our social feed, watching TV or shopping online. The internet can be an awesome resource for inspiration and opening our minds up to the possibilities one can pursue, but fuck it can be oh so painful when we compare and judge ourselves with the successes of others. We must learn how to dance with inspiration – sometimes this means taking a step closer, other times we need to take a step back.
Getting in alignment with our creative flow is all a game of patience, discernment and action. It’s hard to force ourselves to be ‘creative’ or feel ‘inspired’, for the desperation and attachment we have towards an outcome can paralyze us before we even try. Sometimes I’m trying so hard to think of something to write about that I start resenting the whole idea of writing – I place pressure on myself and completely disrupt the natural flow and process of creativity itself. Over the years I have come to believe that feeling connected to ourselves and something beyond ourselves to be key.
Our creative gifts are not produced from our intellect, they arise from something deeper within, and thus, we must get out of our own way and let creativity come forward. This means loosening our grip and becoming receptive to when an idea presents itself. It’s almost like an invitation – an invitation to express ourselves.
This doesn’t mean we don’t practice our craft. I love to write most days. The simple act of putting pen to paper feels so grounding to me, but if you were to read my daily rambles you would probably wonder why on earth I bother. But that’s not the point. It’s not always about the final outcome. Practice is about the process – of getting into the flow. Doing the ground work helps us to build a creative muscle and gets us into the right state of mind. Simply creating, and practicing our craft for the sake of it, rather than the need to impress or receive admiration, is a beautiful way to let go of expectation to an outcome.
It’s also important to discern whether an inspired project is something you really want to invest your heart and soul into. Sometimes we see other people doing really cool things – they look happy – and naturally, we want a piece of it. But this may mean we end up doing things because we think we’ll look good, not because we enjoy the actual process. We are all inspired by the world around us, and that means our physical environment, the people we meet and the artistic expressions we encounter all have an influence on us. A simple way to use discernment in this context is to ask yourself if you would still pursue a particular craft or project if no one else would ever see it. What if you couldn’t post it to Instagram or receive praise and recognition for creating something or pursing a business or charity endeavour. Would it still mean something to you? Would you still want to engage in it? Would you still put in the hours of hard work and dedication?
Sometimes I feel inspired to draw, or think of doing interior design, but most of the time I’m coming from a place attached to the outcome and praise as opposed to the sheer enjoyment of drawing and designing. Writing however, is a different story. Even if no one ever read a thing I wrote, I would still write, because writing is my connection to my emotions, my internal narrative and spirituality. It’s an outlet that helps me to make sense of life. Whilst I love when something I write resonates with someone else, at the end of the day, I write because I couldn’t not write.
So, I ask you – what things do you love to do for the pure joy of doing them? You may not discover this in one day, perhaps it will take a few weeks or months of exploring different possibilities and seeing what floats your boat.
Be patient, get outside in the fresh air and disconnect from the online realm, for creativity is not something we figure out, it’s something that we find within ourselves. Trust the process.
Another aspect to creativity that I feel many people struggle with, is taking action and actually starting a project or trying a new craft. We become so afraid of disappointing ourselves, not meeting our expectations and being rejected that our brain actually feeds our reasoning as to why we shouldn’t take action. This is the mind simply trying to protect our ego and keep us safe. In all honesty, yes you probably will make a few shitty things or poor decisions, you may feel rejected or receive some negative feedback, and perhaps it will take time for you to develop your skill. Does it really matter? I know that sometimes I will make spelling mistakes, errors in grammar or stuff up other things, but I won’t let that get in the way of doing something that I love.
Honestly folks, this is it. Take a few moments to deeply ponder your existence. Seriously. You may get round two if you believe in reincarnation, but in this human life form, right now, this is the one chance you have. Every day is an absolute blessing. Don’t waste it getting caught up and absorbed in the things that one day you’ll look back on and realize weren’t the things that truly mattered to you.
We can spend our days worrying what people will think, feeling afraid to put ourselves out there or try something new, or we can live in alignment with the things that make us feel grounded, inspired and alive, and we can truly start to exist and have an impact in this big incredible world. Allow your creative expression to flow. When the universe blesses you with an idea that ignites your senses, take action, let go of the outcome, and fall in love with the process.