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creative rut

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

(disclaimer: it isn't supposed to make a lot of sense. most experimenting doesn't. that's kind of the point.)

Gravity is a strange thing. Down here where the surface of the world feels flat and we do the same thing slightly differently in the time between dawn and dusk. We’re stuck here unless we learn to fly. Even if we get all the way to the moon, we still wear suits to keep our oxygen going. Sometimes it feels like the air is being choked out of life. It feels dull and noisy and the further away from myself I get the more I float. Some people call this lost. Hell, I’ve even called it that but to say lost is to imply wandering and I sure as hell am not doing that. Wandering brings me back to me. Makes me feel alive enough to have something I’ve created worthy of giving back. Creatives gravitate towards mystery, the unknown. We are filled by the sole effort it takes to re-invent self and life to find newness until that newness becomes flat and we refine our approach until we find newness again. That’s the way of creatives, It’s no wonder I haven’t truly felt creative for quite some time. Instead of rerouting my approach I’ve just sat and complained that my life has gone to shit ever since then or when or because of some underserving human who was just trying to keep living like we all are. Here’s what I’ve been drawn to: Suffering just is. Yes, there is a God who knows all things and watches all things and suffers with the sufferers but He still doesn’t control the suffering. Don’t ask me how, or why. I could be wrong. He’s the greatest mystery there is and it’s probably why I love him so much. It's in my nature to detect a mystery and ask questions and with him, there’s an endless answer. La Ensita, as Noni would say. That’s just the way it is. It can sound hopeless that God doesn’t control everything but honestly, it’s been the most hopeful thing as of late because what else are you supposed to do with something that just is except to accept and keep moving forward? Put on your wings and try a different sky. We learn and we learn but every time we learn it’s from a slightly different mistake and maybe the sooner we learn to accept that we will always make mistakes the sooner we can get on with living.

The goal here is to be fully awake. Eyes-wide-with-wonder-while-grounded-in-truth kind of awake. Rise out of sleep prepared to experiment with another day. Look, I know not everybody wants this life, one of instability and unknown and constant curiosity but ever since I was little, I’ve asked the big questions and wouldn’t settle for a decision that would make me certain of life. Maybe that’s the point of these creative ruts. I’m certain of an outcome because I’m just repeating what I’ve already learned; that it’ll be good, that I will be praised like it will fulfill a purpose in me as a creative when the entire point of creating is to experiment. Suffer a little with my making. Get my hands wet with new paint, learn some kind of music, and see what hats fit for a while. Who has time for that? Trying new things? Who has time for essential guessing of self and expanding? If I like to make so much why not make time? Plaster ink all over my walls and leave my own damn legacy. I’ve been missing the excitement of trying. I feel like a fake most days in the artistic world. They call it imposter syndrome. They say most creatives have it and I say they’re probably right. Not the people who say that but the people who feel like they’re imposters. Let’s stop sugarcoating the syndrome and call it what it is. We’re copying each other. Most of us don’t even know where to start on our own because we create a habit of starting with copying. If you take that away from us our creative minds are revealed as worn and dead and in need of waking. Copying is a way to create without the fear that we will fail. I do it constantly. I paint someone else’s painting and plaster my name to it. But at the end of the first feeling of completion, it doesn’t seem like mine. I haven’t learned anything, haven’t grown. I’m there with a full canvas and mixed colors and all I have to show for true creativity is that I can match a shade to the one in the photo.

Note to my creative self, fast asleep. I see your chest rising: Do something new today, if you’re the kind to gravitate towards mystery. Why grapple with the question in your throat? Why keep the curiosity dusty in the basement, the dreams strangled by the fear of failing? All that is made is best when it’s honest and what’s more honest than a missed stitch or a broken lens or a stroke too far to the right? There is room to not know. Not knowing is the fruit of flourishing creativity. Play in this invisible kingdom until the kingdom reveals Himself to us again. By the Spirit of the Creator let us create with purpose, for we are those whose hands are made to reveal the invisible to the visible, to translate, to craft. To imagine and refine. Our work has the power to be filled with the living presence of God—this is the ultimate mystery. The how and the which way. How can the Spirit fill my hands with the paint fit to reveal his glory of creation? Which is the way I can see it for myself, through the process and the competition? How can my work display His face to the point of awe? None by my own ambition, I’m sure of it. For I copy and I weep, I dull as I trace at the base level of my making, missing the deeper purpose entirely. With the Spirit, I can dive inside the depth of making, where beauty and hope are seen as victors over suffering. As Christ came to the cross, revealing infinite hope through his wounds, so creatives bring forth beauty to do the same in creating. See how accessible the Spirit is to us, to give us full life even in these small areas of existence. There are those who are honored for their stability and are drawn towards it, and there are those who thrive from constant mystery. Let us wander toward it. Better yet, let us run.

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