Years ago, Keith and I took line dancing classes. My steps were tentative, more focused on getting it right, following the directions, and not messing up than anything else. I had to write R and L on the toes of my shoes so that I could end up facing the right direction when I turned. This did not come easily to me. Week after week, I learned new steps and practiced the old. I grew more confident and freer. Every once in a while, I would for a moment lose myself in the music and movement. I forgot my awkwardness and danced.
I think there are many ways to be creative and I am leaning into a few of them. Recently, I read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It inspired me to think about creativity and life differently. It helped me think about all the ways there are to add shape and color, movement and rhythm, to my days, and to my world.
I never thought of myself as a creative person until very recently. Although I’ve explored my world through words for a very long time, I didn’t think of myself as a writer. But that isn’t the only creativity in my life. I’ve gathered people and prepared meals to nurture both the soul and the body. I’ve organized events and lead people to accomplish goals. I’ve created things and helped to shape people. I’ve curated a life, making choices, gathering, sorting, prioritizing people, activities, and things. I’ve imagined things that did not yet exist and brought them into being.
Thinking about all of this has been healing for me. At work, I have been grieving the dismantling of a long term project. It has felt like such a waste. It was good work, that came from collaboration, creativity, and eventually friendship. Together we tackled big challenges, with imagination and hard work and it was successful beyond our wildest dreams. But it ended, and it hurt. As I’ve struggled with anger, betrayal, and frustration I have often wondered if it was worth it. If the time, the energy, the hope, and possibility, we poured into this thing was worth it, if it could so easily be dismissed.
As I move through this process, I am realizing that while we were creating this thing, it was also creating us. We are stronger, deeper, and more connected because of this work. Life moves on. There will be new projects, but I am different now because of the work we did together. That can’t be taken away. During some of the difficult days of the summer, a friend sent me a note of encouragement “do something hard, that really matters, with good people.” Yes, this is the creative life.