You've Got The Power
Drawing strength from your creativity during these uncertain times
I don't know about you but since this lockdown began I have, on occasion, found myself confused about what is expected of me – and what I should expect of myself. The lives we were accustomed to living have changed so rapidly and dramatically that at times it has felt like a rollercoaster ride; and all some of us want to do is get off. As human beings, it's possible that we have never been more needed in our lifetimes, neither have we been more treasured, nor have we been more aware of our own mortality or our smallness as we face this global pandemic. This feeling of powerlessness can be difficult for us to deal with.
Some of us get our sense of security by leading an ordered life, full of routines, predictable and dependable. Or we may throw ourselves into work, which gives us a sense of purpose, or we devote ourselves to helping others, which gives us a raison d'etre. Perhaps we have an abundance of money, love, pleasure, success, and now these things have been taken away or limited. Perhaps we are feeling more inconvenienced than frightened. Some of us are lonely. Perhaps we barely saw anyone before and now we are even more isolated. We may not speak to another human being for days. We may find our anxiety is spinning out of control. Or maybe we have nothing. We have gone from having no hope to even less. We live in cramped conditions or on the street with no-one to care for us. We may be suffering abuse at home. The tapestry of conditions and situations that we as a race are now facing is rich and stark. However, there is something that binds us together as humans - and I mean every single one of us: creativity.
You may not see yourself as a creative person, but take it from me – you are. You're a human being, aren't you? We are born creative and we die creative. I'm not just talking about artists, actors, writers, singers, dancers, potters, knitters, sculptors. Even people with those labels don't feel creative all of the time. And if you do not have one of those labels or work in one of those, or other, 'creative' professions, please relinquish the belief that they are creative and you are not. By the way, I use the word 'label', because it's really significant. We are labelled from a very young age. The labels placed upon us can seep into our identities and then we label ourselves accordingly. How many times have you heard someone say – or said yourself: 'I'm just not arty', or 'I've no imagination', 'I'm tone deaf' or 'I can't draw to save my life'. If you say that enough times, it becomes true. If you believe that, then it limits you.
So I'm asking you to put those labels and limiting beliefs away. Set them aside. You are sitting here reading this with the same level of imagination and the same level of creativity as the next person. Take it from me - we all have a creative source within us. It's like our very own magic power; it's the dwelling place of our true selves. When we feel deep joy it comes from our source. When we feel awe and wonder it comes from our source. When we feel inspired to follow a more difficult path because we know it's the right one, it comes from our source. And when we are being creative, it comes from our source.
And the proof is all around us right now that indeed creativity can connect us all. Who hasn't noticed the increase in people on social media singing, acting, writing, knitting, painting or just making people laugh? It's everywhere. People are doing silly dances, creating funny sketches, singing beautifully with their family, finding creative ways to fundraise, painting rocks. We can join together in music, in singing, in art, in performing, in reading, sharing, laughing. These are pure expressions of the human spirit and these are what will get us through this hard time. Truly, the medium doesn't matter – it's more about how you feel when you're doing it. Being creative should be a pleasure not a chore. The amazing thing about it though is that as long as you make a space for it, creativity will fill it. The bigger the space you make, the more it will flow to you. That said, you do not need to share the fruits of your creative labour with anyone if you don't wish too. You don't need to seek approval as to whether something is 'good' or not. Don't get me wrong – there is a beautiful freedom in being able to share something and not actually care whether people like it or not, but that's may be something you don't feel up to right now, in which case do it for the joy it brings you.
Now you may be thinking: “This is all very well, Sibby, but I am struggling just to keep up with the cleaning, schooling and working from home and I don't have the time or headspace to be creative, thanks very much!” and I get that. I spent the first few weeks of this lockdown in mourning for the child-free time I had at home when the kids were in school or childcare and I could focus on my business, watch webinars or write.
However, even though in the lead up to lockdown I was teaching people how to release their creative blocks and get writing, ironically and despite having lots of time to do so, I hadn't worked on my second novel in months. I was so focused on trying to get my business off the ground that I wasn't giving my creative source any attention. And contrary to all my expectations, I can honestly say that in the past 2 weeks I have done more writing and had more inspired ideas than I had in the two months before lockdown, and in that sense I am feeling more aligned with my own mission than ever before – despite having a fraction of the time to spend on creative pursuits. There are a few possible reasons for this.
Firstly, there is something about this unique time we find ourselves in that makes us want to share and connect with others more than ever; maybe because sometimes when something is taken away it is human nature to realise how important it actually was to us. Secondly, it is a time of reflection; we want to connect with our inner selves too. Most of us are looking at life through a different lens now. There is heightened fear of what may come, and yet there is heightened wonder at the capacity for kindness and bravery that we all have. Thirdly, we have been reminded of the fragility of life and the desire to achieve our dreams, whatever they may be, has been given an injection of rocket fuel with an increasing number of us deciding that failing after trying is much better than never trying at all. “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived”, so says Baz Luhrmann in his film 'Strictly Ballroom'. We don't want to live half-lives anymore.
The human condition and the human spirit are being laid bare before us more than ever before, and it is no longer possible to deny the presence of something truly magical within us. Look at the gratitude that lines our streets every Thursday at 8pm, look at the commitment we are showing to protecting ourselves and our loved ones but equally complete strangers by isolating. Look at the courage and professionalism of frontline workers, look at the beautiful raw human spirit as it overflows, look at our reconnection with nature as we take our daily dose of fresh air. It's all magic. It's all powerful. It's all inspiring.
And yes, it can be overwhelming on social media at the moment with the myriad courses, webinars on offer, and seeing all the beautiful/funny/sublime creations of everyone else might make you feel overwhelmed and also perhaps a little insecure. We're all having to deal with different pressures at the moment. What I can tell you is that in your creative source there is a well of joy and pleasure and love. Put love into what you're doing and boom - you're being creative. You don't have to write a book, or paint a canvas, or learn ballet. Creativity can be expressed in the smallest of ways. What is your outlet? Finding it is the first step. If you're not sure, ask what brings you joy, and go with that.
Here are some little ways that you can take that first step:
Cook a lovely meal
Put on your favourite tune and sing or dance (or both)
Write a letter or a poem for someone
Notice a heartfelt act by another and express gratitude for it
Make up a story or game with a child
Go out into nature and look at the vast sky
Share something you've created with someone else
Finish something you've started
Write a sentence
Sing a tune
Play a few notes on an instrument
Make something – anything!
Just take that first step and trust that creativity will do the rest. Rekindle your playfulness, your sense of wonder. In the same way that a child believes in magic, believe in your own innate creativity. Because let me tell you that even at the ripe old age of 44, I still wholeheartedly believe in magic. Let's face it: what could be more magical than creating something out of nothing from a place you can't see, made from your own desire? That's the power of creativity! And just knowing that brings me great joy and optimism for the future of human kind.
I hope it does the same for you.