Creativity Junkie

“Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.”

-Homer, the Odyssey

If you are reading this chances are you, like me are a Creativity Junkie. By this I mean we are addicted to our craft. Art and the act of creation is as important to us as the air we breath, the wine we drink, the food we eat. At times our craft can be all consuming and we know like we know our own hands that we could not live without it.

How else can you explain the fact that in the face of our worst disappointments: the bad reviews, the book rejections, the rehearsals that make you just want to die, the odd looks when people find out what we do, that even in the midst of this, we keep on working. We sacrifice our time, our money, sometimes even our relationships, all on the altar of Art.

It doesn’t matter what kind of creativity it is. It can be painting, photography, writing or music. It can be crafts. It can even be computer programming. In any of these we labor, in both senses of the word, to bring some new thing, some novelty into the world. It’s not really the end that matters, it’s the process. It’s how and what we feel while we are working.

But why?

The answer is simple. It’s right there in the opening lines of the Odyssey. Homer knew as all the poets do. We work our craft it because in this act, in opening ourselves to some inner well of creativity and imagination, we touch something transcendent, something divine. Through us the gods sing and we participate in their act of creation. We are more alive in this effort than in anything else we do. That reach where we touch the face of God is what keeps us going.

It’s not just the west that understands this. See this poem by the Zen Poet Basho.

“Awakened at midnight
by the sound of the water jar
cracking from the ice”

The simplest act of nature is infused with the divine, waiting to awaken us to some transcendence that is yet right in front of us.

Philosophers know this too. In fact, Alfred North Whitehead thought the universe itself was made of creativity. It’s the stuff of the cosmos. The whole world, including our lives, is nothing but a process of novelty breaking into time. This is no more true than in our acts of bringing beauty and art into the world.

So next time you are discouraged, disheartened by some setback, remember this. That in the practice of your craft, no matter its form or outcome, you are participating in the very act of divine creation, of the gods coming back into the world.

Sing in me, Muse. What a rush.