When I was diagnosed with depression in 2002, I approached it like I had anything else in my life at this time: a problem to solve.
But as I studied my life, I couldn’t find anything or anyone to blame. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of: a good marriage, healthy children, a nice home.
It didn’t make sense until I contemplated what was missing in my life: a regular creative outlet—something I’d always had in my life until I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. Not that being a mom doesn’t demand some creativity! But it was different than the kind that truly satisfied my soul.
I’d been studying yoga for a while at this point and had fallen in love with the movements and philosophies. I’d always been a teacher of some kind or another my entire life, from ballet to calculus to Microsoft Excel.
So, deciding to start teaching yoga as both a creative pursuit and, hopefully, an antidote to depression was as easy as 2+2 = 4.
Let me pause and say that I know depression is not always solvable with a lifestyle change. I’m not a doctor, and I’m not diagnosing. I can only say that, for me and whatever level of depression I had, changing my lifestyle was (and remains) the cure to keep depression at bay.
I signed up for yoga teacher training. Within a year, I was designing and teaching yoga classes. Not only that, but I established a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), which needed me to design a logo, write a mission, and create my own class schedule and teaching style—all things I loved doing.
Symptoms of depression don’t disappear overnight. But after some time teaching regularly, I felt more inspired. I was lighter, freer, and more connected. And in this sense of deeper connection, I began to find my healing.
This was almost 20 years ago. I am still prone to depression. I have tried medications in the past, but for me personally, the thing that always unclogs the murkiness of depression is a new, creative pursuit.
It doesn’t have to be huge, nor do I have to make some huge investment or sacrifice. It can be as simple as taking a class or picking up a new skill.
My creative outlets are not designed to please or help others, though those things can be a nice side effect. I’m creating for myself. I’m doing it for my health and well-being. I’m doing it because I am built to do it, and if I don’t do it, I will fall into a pit of depression.
When I don’t create for any period of time, my mind and heart become clogged and congested. (A sure descriptor of depression if I ever heard one.)
Of all of my time studying and seeking spiritual truths, there is one truth that I have aligned myself with wholeheartedly: we are all souls here on this planet, and as souls, we are meant to create. To deny ourselves this expression is to deny our soul itself.
Creation is not a thing we do; it’s who we are.
This is contrary to society’s teachings, which tell us that only certain types of creativity count or suggest that there’s only room for so many creatives in this world, and the rest of us have to “get serious” or “be practical.” Of course, society would tell us this—a world full of creatives would be a radical, awake, and disruptive force against the status quo.
If you’ve ever been told, even by yourself, that you’re not creative—or if you’ve ever passed the buck and said someone else is “the creative one” in the family—I invite you to explore these three creator archetypes and see if one of them opens up a channel for more creative possibility in your life:
The Artist: the Beautifier
Nobody else could have ever seen it or imagined it possible with the ingredients and supplies at hand, but the Artist saw it instantly.
They see a beautiful butterfly garden where others see only soil and seeds. They see a successful dinner party and a kitchen filled with the scents and sounds of ingredients coming to life, while others merely see a bag of ingredients and envision a kitchen full of dishes.
The Artist archetype does not only include those who paint, draw, sing, or act. It’s anyone who seeks to make the world more beautiful or draw attention to beauty. Even if the beauty they seek to enhance is themselves. Or, perhaps, they create art to call attention to forces that are invisible and need to be made visible:
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” ~ George Orwell
Artists enhance our world with their creations. They are poets, writers, composers, gardeners, carpenters, chefs, designers, sculptors, weavers.
Artists synthesize and put things together in such a way they create something entirely new. It could be an interview, a blog post, a scrapbook, a living room design. From raw material that some might see as lifeless—a piece of wood, for example—the Artist sees a manifestation of beauty.
(Subtypes of the artist include Painter, Writer, Scribe, Carpenter, Smith, Chef, Gardener, Designer.)
Without Artists, our world would be drab, grey, and stale. We need Artists to call our attention to the beauty of this world and of human life itself.
The Alchemist: the Transformer
The Alchemist archetype is interested primarily in change and transformation, both for themselves and for the world. While in constant search for the Philosopher’s Stone—the mythical substance capable of providing immortality—the search is what matters.
The Alchemist archetype might not be attempting to create a magic potion that can help us literally live forever, but they create the “spells” in the world that captivate us, hold our attention, and change us forever.
The Alchemist seeks to restore death to life through the magic of transformation.
The question stoking their creativity is:
What can transform this world for the better?
They can transform nearly anything they get their hands on, from relationships and homes to workspaces and jobs. But they’re most interested in transforming minds, hearts, and humanity itself. They take what is “lead” and turn it into “gold.”
Like the Artist archetype, the Alchemist works with existing material, ideas, and forms. But whereas the Artist paints the butterfly, the Alchemist becomes the butterfly.
The Artist beautifully performs a role; an Alchemist transforms it into something no one could have imagined. To me, there is no person who better represents this archetype than Robin Williams. He transformed everything he touched into pure gold.
(Subtypes of this archetype include the Magician, the Sorcerer, the Scientist, and the Wizard.)
The Pioneer: the Originator
“The Pioneer is called to discover and explore new lands, whether that territory is internal or external…a need to step on fresh and undiscovered territory…” ~ Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts
Unlike either of the previous archetypes, the Pioneer is not interested in working with existing material. They seek out new territory, the new frontier. They call down new inventions, ideas, and ways of thinking directly from the cosmos.
Pioneers are characterized by their joy in risk-taking and adventure. They walk their own path, however lonely it might be. Public opinion does not sway them; they seek their direction and encouragement only from within.
Creative pioneers are natural status quo disrupters. They are the changemakers, game-changers, and paradigm tippers of our world.
They are the great minds, the originators of great thought. Carl Jung would be a great example of a pioneer in the field of psychology.
(Subtypes of the Pioneer archetype include the Entrepreneur, the Inventor, and the Innovator.)
All of these creative archetypes are valuable and needed in today’s world. You might discover that rather than fitting perfectly into one, you are a combination of two, or maybe you’re tri-archetypal! We’re all unique in how we create—the archetypes aren’t here to force you to fit in. Just the opposite! They are here to wake us up to the most prominent patterns in our souls and then encourage us to express them.
Today is the day to step more fully into the true creator you are in your soul. To manifest your soul’s longing for creativity and to fully feel that connection with the ultimate creator and from which we all originated: the universe itself.
If the universe doesn’t care whether its creation becomes a brief-but-bright shooting star, a life-sustaining planet, or a black hole of nothingness, why are we worrying about it?
Don’t create for results, for approval, or for recognition. These things may or may not come, and they will certainly go.
Create because it’s the best way to stay connected, healthy, and whole.
Create because it can stave off depression.
Create because it’s who we are.
Create because it’s what this world needs.
I still sense depression, lurking like a dark figure over my shoulder. It’s patiently waiting for me to let it in, to let it take over, or let me feel sorry for myself and withdraw into what I call a “cloak of empty calories”: television, drink, internet scrolling.
While I do indulge in all of these things in my life, I continue to refuse his offer for permanent shelter.
I have built a shelter of my own in the form of my creative lifestyle.