Lately, I’ve been working a lot with this idea of beliefs we carry around with us. It is similar to that idea I’ve written about previously with the “voices in your head.” Some of these beliefs can be helpful, like the belief that all people are inherently good. This belief can help us be more compassionate and forgiving, and also expect the best. Some, however, can be toxic, and have insidious effects on our ability to be our best selves, and especially to create.
What are the messages that keep us from creating? Many artists struggle to believe that what they do can matter. We compare ourselves to doctors and humanitarians and emergency workers and police officers and teachers and military servicepeople and wonder, what right do I have to create?
But creation is one of the most basic human impulses, needs, and gifts. For many artists, the act of creation puts us in touch with not only ourselves, but with something much deeper, more spiritual, something beyond ourselves. Getting in touch with that, and the modelling we provide to others to do the same, can be the difference between hope and defeat, between love and hate, and between violence and compassion.
To create is to be human. If we are not creating, then what are we fighting for? Helping others is great – and we need to all do our part in making the world a better place. But without writers and artists and musicians, how could we find ways to express ourselves, to connect with others and to connect with that deeper strand of something that connects us all? Sometimes a book, or a poem, or a painting, or a song, or a dance, can be as powerfully healing as any medicine we can get in a pharmacy or any treatment we undergo in a hospital. In the end, it’s all part of the flow of existence, and each of us has a role to play. That’s the belief I choose to have, and the one that sustains me.
There have been a lot of good books that have been written about this idea. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, a recent one, is definitely worth a read if you are a writer or any kind of artist.