Writing

On creativity

I was chatting with my best friend recently, my college roommate who I’d argue knows me better than anyone, even after 15 years of living apart, and I was talking about how I was going through a sort of redecorating frenzy at home. We moved a cabinet to relocate a desk and that prompted a redo of the dining room. I stepped on one too many toys in CJ’s room and suddenly he has a new bedspread and I’ve rearranged all his furniture. I organized the basement and cleared out our clutter. I sent a bag of clothes from my closet to ThredUp and hung my remaining items in rainbow order, with the hangers spaced evenly and categories for fancy clothes, work clothes, and everyday. While the rooms we’ve done feel done, meaning I don’t feel the need to go back and tweak and move and buy, I have more ideas for the house, more decluttering goals, more pins for my Pinterest board, and a list of little things that need fixing. It isn’t a never-ending cycle by any means, but decorating the house is something that’s always in the back of my mind. My friend said, “Well it makes sense—you’re a creative person, and you need an outlet.”

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Then I was reading a blog post from Cait Flanders and she shared, “there is one thing I know for sure: whenever you’re thinking of consuming more of something, you need to figure out what part of you or your life feels like it is lacking—and do whatever it takes to fix that instead. The best answer is never to consume more.” It got me thinking: is the lack of a place to express my creativity pushing me to consume more food? Am I trying to patch this hole in my life with sweets? Sometimes I have those nights, those nights when you’re full and tired and your eyes are drooping towards sleep while you lie on the couch and flip through the channels but something in your brain says No, you’re not full, it’s not time for bed yet, it’s time to eat some more. Have a bowl of popcorn. There you go. Now here, have a bowl of ice cream. Feel better? And while I don’t always feel better, I go to bed feeling full, and the feeling of my slightly swollen stomach resting on the sheets as I snuggle under the covers is comforting in its familiarity, if nothing else.

I’ve read more than one book recently that’s talked about finding the purpose for your life, and what do you really want to be doing, and if you’re not doing what you really want to be doing then does your life have any meaning at all? Then there’s my favorite question: what would you do if you couldn’t fail? Or another version: what would you do if money were no object? The problem for me is, I’ve spent my life trying to find purpose in what I’m doing. I quit my cush marketing job (it was so great, seriously, sometimes I look back and think about what an idiot I was to leave) for a career wiping other people’s butts and cleaning up vomit. But when my patients would look me in the eyes and say thank you, or when I would hand a swaddled newborn to its mother for the first time—my purpose was obvious. I was put on this earth to help people.

But I also feel I have a yearning for a more creative life, maybe one that involves interior design, or writing. Sometimes I think my dream job would be to stay home with the kids and just write this blog—I have the time, but I’m missing a few key components, like a clear direction for my writing and a way (or ways) to make money. I’m going to make one more reference and then I’ll leave you alone—that Friends episode, The One Where Rachel Quits. Basically, Rachel quits her job at the coffee shop because she desperately wants to start her career in fashion, and waiting tables isn’t moving her towards that. She then gets The Fear because she quit without having another job lined up, and that fear motivates her to find one quickly. And yes it’s a TV show, and yes, I had The Rachel haircut in high school, but I think the point about not having to move forward because everything’s going pretty OK is a good one.

All this is to say, I think I want to do something more with my life. I’m not sure what, but from now on, I’m going to try harder to find out.

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3 thoughts on “On creativity

  1. This hit home with me today! I can so relate. I’ve only been doing the SAHM thing for a few months now, and it’s been in the midst of a major move into my grandparents’ house with *extremely necessary* projects rolling out to infinity, but every time I come up for air (finished laying new floor just as baby starts crawling, for example) I feel the vastness of possibility weighing down on me. I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to test out what I really want to do in those spare moments during naps, but this is also the first time in my life I feel almost breathless with anxiety about making the most of my time. Starting a blog was my first toe back into the waters of creativity, but I don’t have the direction (or honestly the time) to make it what I want it to be. At the same time, nearly every day I have a creative project idea I want to try to see through. Butt-wiping energy and creative energy are two very different things, and I’m trying to find a way to make room for both in my life. I am utterly rambling, forgive me. Thanks for the great post, and good luck finding your outlet(s).

  2. Kate says:

    I remember this conversation 🙂 I have learned nearly everything I know about creativity from watching you these last 18 years. I think you are onto something and I cannot wait to see where your creativity leads you next!

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