Friday, January 22, 2010

Reclaiming Our Creativity

When your creativity has been stolen by Hades and taken underground like Persephone how do you get it back? What if there is no Demeter searching everywhere for her precious daughter? Or what if you are Demeter and your grief and railing led to the straightjacket?

“We would all be better off without you making such a fuss. Get on with your life, stop making trouble, stop complaining to me,” is what everyone says. “You are a bother, and so is your child. Keep quiet, stand still, don’t blow everything out of proportion and don’t make life so difficult for us. We’re perfectly happy when your hands are tied behind your back.”

And so you sit, in your madness, fully aware of how dire your circumstances are seeing death and doom and the unraveling of life in everything, so you undertake nothing, exist in the daily without joy, check off the chores, do what is required. All this, while your imagination is sequestered, held hostage, and you wonder––if she were returned to you, you would have any use for her?

Do you remember what it is like to play, to dream, to find joy in a word, a movement or a moment? So afraid are you of her returning to your doorstep and seeing you in this state that you work out long involved custody arrangements via courier. You come up with a list of everything that must be done, all the unfinished tasks accomplished, the to do’s completed, so that when she returns she will have one hundred percent of your attention.

You will dote on her, marvel at her, sit and stare at her. She will shrink under all this attention. She does what she does for the joy of it, the life it brings, not because you need to prove to yourself that you are talented or worthy or capable of making a living with your art. Even when she was with you, you did not hold a spotlight over her head and illuminate her every movement. She has learned to create in the dark, to weave what she can’t see, to trust beyond her sight, and asks you to do the same. Do not force her into deadlines and grades, and do not confuse her with the editor or working writer. The creative genius cannot be controlled. She does not live by clocks or calendars by college courses and critiqued papers.
And so do not wring your hands, the restraints chafing at your wrists. Do not build walls around yourself, or boxes to contain her, or platforms to thrust her into the lime light. Do not make yourself director and audience waiting for her to take the stage, and worrying if she will withstand the spotlight and the pressure.

Trust instead, that when she returns to you, it will not be the tearful reunion of separated lovers. She will come quietly, gently, you will not see her so much as feel her hand slip into yours, sensing that she has returned. Go slow and be gentle with yourself when this happens. Do not dance an all night marathon. It has been many months since you two have been together. Treat her tenderly, asking little, expecting less. No one can demand spirit. The captors can make us sing by the waters of Babylon, but they cannot make us compose a new song that fills our hearts with joy.

Give Persephone a pen, some paper, a paintbrush, a piano. Give her food and water, sleeping and waking, sunlight and shadow, privacy and people, solitude and community, give her sanctuary and open spaces. Trust her and she will blossom. Make room in your psyche for her without asking for product. Embrace the process that brings life, claim it for her, for you, for the spirit of life that has awakened within and among us. Learn from her to escape your constraints and choose abundant animated life.