"As a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers." William Blake

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dare to be creative

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The Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel (Michelangelo) image
The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo Buonarroti

Since I was a little child, I've been exercising my artistic creativity in the most varied forms. I don't remember any time of my life when I was not doing anything creative, and I was never blocked by my parents or teachers. So my creativity flourished and became part of my understanding of life.
Later, when I started to break a little of the big barrier of introversion that had permeated my life and had a closer contact with other people, it was sort of curious to realize how their views of life were different from mine. Part of my difficulty in teaching art is based on my attempts to understand how things work for people who don't create on a regular basis. It is like trying to understand how it is to live underwater when your nature is to walk on the ground.

Some my say that artists are lucky, privileged or "gifted" people. But I don't think that I, or any other creative person, are really any of these things. We are just exercising something that in reality is within everyone. We are so addicted to the feeling of happiness and realization that comes from the act of creation that we want more and more - I, for instance, wake up thinking about art and go to bed thinking about art.

There are no “creative” or “non-creative” people. All of us are creative people. Creativity is nothing that people cannot develop and exercise themselves – because, as sons and daughters of the Creator, that's our intrinsic nature. It is just that the second type probably had few or no chances to develop their creative beings as a natural thing. We go to school and we learn that math and history are more important that music or fine arts, because they are things of the intellect and arts of the perception, and since intellect is more important than feelings, therefore the arts are not really important. Artists are just those lunatics that make beautiful things to hang on our walls or put some sounds together to help us relax in the end of a stressful day. Nothing really important like money or a nice house and a car, or like science or engineering, those things, you know, that build and make the world you live in "work". Some people even say that creating art is not even a real job.

Oh, the world. That wonderful, comfortable, sick world of people fragmented and unaware of their own emptiness. That same people who learned so efficiently how to maintain the status quo are the same ones that know few or nothing about themselves. The same ones that look for a God somewhere over the rainbow and are unable to realize that He is in fact inside themselves, in their owns hearts... But they cannot hear Him because their hearts have been silenced for so long that they even forgot they have one.

There's a very interesting movie from 2002 called Equilibrium (director Kurt Wimmer) that in my opinion is a good metaphor for all this crazy process we've been into. In this film, people live in a kind of fictitious totalitarian society that only can maintain things in “order” because people are not allowed to feel. They are forced to take a drug that suppresses their emotions, so they are unable to be ourselves or be creative to best serve the interests of that government. The town they live in has no colors, the clothes they wear resemble boring gray uniforms; there's no art and no personal expression. Only people that exist like shadows of themselves, of soldiers in a war that they don't exactly understand.

According to the Eastern wisdom, things like creativity, perception and emotions are seen as ways to set us free from ignorance and suffering. It's only trough those things that one can access levels of conscience that are not within reach of the conscious mind. Eastern wisdom teaches us that we must function as wholes, and not in fragments, like the mechanistic Western thought has instructed us to do for so long. What follows this deep unbalance we live in cannot be less than sickness and distance from our true essence – and from Divinity.

Being creative does not only mean to create art in its strict sense; being creative is to be ourselves, it is to let your imagination flow and bring it to the world in physical form. It is to let your light shine from within to the outside. This light ends up illuminating not only own our existence but also everything and everybody else that comes to get in contact with us. And thus our personal contribution to a world more conscious and free from old, limiting patterns takes effect. Creative people are in straight touch with themselves because they are in constant process of self-understanding; at the same time, they are freer because they learn how to transcend their reality (this type of transcendence, or encounter with something bigger than ourselves, it's ordinarily attempted through common forms of escapism, which can include things like drugs, organized religions or TV.) They become conscious of their uniqueness and improve their self-esteem and self-respect. They leave their marks in everything they choose to put their love into: a meal, a painting, a new way to decorate the living room or to make the working team more productive. They become inspiring, more sensitive to other people's needs, more empathic and more able to contribute to their world in a loving way, because they learn to recognize the Divine in themselves and in others, understanding that through that divine inheritance we are all connected.

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