I am struggling through layers of memory to try and figure out when and why I came to the conclusion that I may not be creative enough. It is not that I lack creative qualities; it is just that for years I have been under the impression that I lack the creative spark. The unhappy product of perfectionism I guess, and a state of mind that browbeats you into doing everything perfectly or backing out entirely. This has made me forgo any artistic or imaginative endeavors, choosing instead the role of professional corporate advisor; supporting the decision makers rather than being personally involved in creation, innovation or leadership. I cannot seem to recall that incident or moment which provided the basis for my years of dissatisfaction. And although I have always tried to use creative thinking in my work, I constantly have this feeling that it is no more than a transposition or duplication of the same things over and over again, leaving little or no freedom for innovative or authentically productive results. For someone who practices law or works in finance or investment, for example, using inventive or resourceful solutions or being able to offer the right advice to a client can be regarded as implementation of creativity, but even they will agree that personal interpretation, emotions or individual reflections are stumbling blocks with no added value, which even, at times, cause harm. While looking for other means of self-expression, I attended painting courses and decorated my home with large colorful paintings. I resolutely taught myself to cook and have occasionally taken pleasure in the contentment of friends and family I have hosted. I built and decorated a house, danced for a while, and was fortunate to become a mother.
Becoming a mother created a big black hole of 12 years in which all my creative desires were channeled into raising three daughters of whom I am very proud. I must admit that when you throw yourself into raising kids, there is no lack of creativity. However, for me, what is lacking when raising kids is intellectual thinking, and, most disturbingly, as mothers we start obscuring the search for self-esteem: instead of basing it on our individual achievements, we appreciate the respect of others for our kids' performance as if they were in fact our own. As soon as you recognize that it is your own—and no one else’s—accomplishments that will bring you to rest, only then can you start searching for the place that has led me to this journey.
"You can never really live anyone else's life, not even your child's. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you've become yourself." Eleanor Roosevelt
For years I was suffocating, I could hardly finding the air to breathe, filled with aches and pains, all the result of my unspoken self. I was a victim of my fears, a prisoner in a cage I had built by myself; a cage that was ruled by my education and the customs and habits I was raised on. Facing your problems and looking around to find other ways to live your life is not so difficult; it is the ability to change your long-standing behavior that is the problem. No mirror or good advice can alter that; only hard work, honesty, and the willingness to take chances and fight for yourself can drive that transformation. The first step is maybe the hardest, filled with doubts and disbelief. For me, it was breaking it down to achievable, easy-to-see goals, Little by Little Tiny Steps, that made the change feasible.
And sometimes, it is just a different perspective that changes your awareness. While looking to restore more creativity to my life, I started thinking about what art really means to me. Does it introduce something new? Is it originality? Is it the outcome of imagination? Is it derived from a conflict of ideas or a place of unease? Is it something shocking? Does it in fact require having a creative spark? It seems as if everything has already been done and yet, I still get excited from visiting galleries and museums, concerts, shows and lectures.
A creative spark, I now realize, is no more than the combination of the two things which I see as art:
- The ability to introduce a new interpretation, a reflection of the curator's soul and existence, one that is unique since it came from that particular mind which was honest enough—consciously or subconsciously—to mirror their inner voice in their art. As the soul of each artist is so distinct from the other, and artists today are born into a reality so unlike the past, the products of their creativity have, by definition, to be different. However, this doesn’t mean that we cannot appreciate an authentic piece of art regardless of when it was created; and
- The way in which a piece of art touches another’s soul: how each individual finds resemblance, recognizing their reflection and identity, and how they interpret this based on their personality or chemistry, or in other subconscious ways. This is what I, the observer, see in what you, the artist, wanted to say.
Cultural Traffic by Teddy Crin in the Maxxi, Rome
That said, one does not have to be an artist to live a creative life. It is the consolidation of these two elements in any way possible that may inspire a productive and fulfilling life. It can be reflected in innovation, writing, cooking, designing, helping others or researching; in any and every aspect of our lives. That is what I believe leads to contentment, satisfaction and self-actualization.
At a moment of epiphany, I realized that being involved in a creative process is like existing in two parallel dimensions, the physical and earthly, and the spiritual, whereby you are floating within your imagination and the stories you build in your head. It is the dream of the innovator who connects the seemingly impossible with the possible by linking the two dimensions and making their paths cross.
When I allow myself to let go of the doubts and concentrate on creating Avennyou, I feel so content and fulfilled. Creative life is not necessarily easy. It requires a lot of self-discipline, self-observation, and heightened awareness. It requires you to listen carefully to the voices inside you and, at the same time, be conscious of the many things happening around you. It requires a willingness to work hard and be honest. The results, however, are indescribably rewarding:
"Creativity is contagious, pass it on." Albert Einstein
I hope that I have aroused your curiosity to start looking for the creative instinct within you and for what inspires you to be curious, and to investigate and search without compromise to ensure the transformation of your findings into actions.