I’ve been doing a lot of taking stock lately, thinking about where I am and what I’m doing and how it aligns (or doesn’t) with where I thought I’d be at this point in life and where I’d like to be now. And instead of wallowing in self-pity over my rather incongruous past, present, and imagined future, I’ve decided to take some sort of action. Because a number of things conspired this winter to remind me that life is too short to spend doing shit that doesn’t mean something to you. And to be miserable. And so long as we are privileged enough to live in a part of the world where options exist, we should be brave enough to make a choice, make a better choice, make a different choice, and move toward the life we’d like to have.
Which isn’t easy, I know. And one of the things I struggle with is being kinder to myself. Walking the line between giving myself permission to take baby steps and to go at my own pace, instead of the pace I think I should be moving at, while not allowing myself to sit back and be lazy. It’s a bit of an uphill battle and I’m constantly working at it. But if I can’t be nice to myself, who else is going to be?
So in my quest to kick-start the life I’d like to have and to treat myself well, I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately and how it plays into (or doesn’t play into) my day-to-day. I believe we all have the capacity to be creative, artist or otherwise, and that creativity comes in many forms, whether it manifests itself in a painting, a performance, what you’re making for dinner tonight, or how you problem-solve at work. Most of the time we probably exercise our creativity without even realizing it. But consciously being creative requires us to be a bit more thoughtful about what we’re doing and how and why.
I should mention that this is all my mother’s fault.
Debs goes to Boston every March to a conference and has been doing this for years now. She has a routine when she’s there, places to go and people to see. Many of these involve food and drinks, but one very important one involves paper. My mother loves Paper Source, a very cool chain of paper goods stores located online and across the US. And this year she returned with a “Blooming Wreath Flower Kit” for me.
This little kit was both simple and inspiring. Simple in that it doesn’t require any real skill to create–you curl the edges of the flower cut-outs with a pencil, stack them, secure them with a coloured fastener, and stick them to the wreath board. And inspiring because it made me realize how easy a conscious creative act can be. All told, it took me about an hour to finish (and probably only that long because I am a bit of a perfectionist about these kinds of things) and I didn’t think of anything while I was doing it other than the task at hand. Which was so liberating, since I (both as an actor and as a human) am constantly striving to be in the moment and to enjoy it.
It could easily have ended there, as a nice evening and a wreath of paper flowers, but my one hour of kit-related-activity was like turning on a faucet. The creativity flowed freely. It made me want to dig in, get my hands dirty, and make shit. And instead of going to bed and forgetting about it until weeks later when I would remember and feel guilty about another broken promise to myself, I noticed the Paper Source’s tagline: “Do something creative every day.” BRILLIANT. A single, straight-forward, totally achievable direction.
So I decided I would try it. And then I decided that doing something creative every few days was probably a more attainable, less anxiety attack-inducing goal (see how nice I was to myself there?). But I like the “every day” part of the idea, too, so perhaps I will just continue at my own pace until I hit 365 creative things.
I’ll keep you posted.