February 3, 2010
Finding Your Creative Genius
So have you ever felt like a dear in headlights staring at a blank page with NOTHING in your head? That’s been me all week. I’ve got to get some material, which made me realize, maybe the fact that I don’t have any material, can be my material! Where does creativity come from? Is it a Divine experience? Is it inside all of us only to be resurrected with mind-altering stimulants? Or is it a random event that only a select few are privy to experiencing accidentally?
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love” claims that none of us are geniuses but ALL of us have baby geniuses inside of us waiting to be revealed. Those genius moments can only come out when we suspend our egos and nurture our artistry. Ego stands for Edging G-d Out. Whenever a person decides to make their creative endeavor about measuring their own self worth, posturing to be better then the person next to him/her, or using their creativity to exploit the weak and the weary, we experience the opposite of innovation, which usually leads to isolation, which then leads to a negative manifestation which becomes the opposite of creative, it becomes lifeless, boring, and weak. This egotistical approach may feel justified, but in the long run it tampers with our genius gravely.
Every human being has a slice of the cosmic higher power. Call it a spirit, a soul, a life force; it is the quintessential manifestation of our inventive imaginations, which gives us the ability to create the colorful ideas that transform our world. But it is up to us to foster that cosmic force that can lie quiet. Just like we feed our bodies with great food, work our muscles out by pumping iron, our souls- our creative spirit is no different. If we edge the part of ourselves that is our life force out, then we can get stumped. Our creativity can quiet, and we are left with a blank page.
Here are a few soul feeding ideas:
1. Prayer and Meditation
By connecting to a higher existence we are feeding the reality that we are not alone, that we are dependent upon a greater force, and that we do indeed crave connection and a higher purpose with meaning. Think of it like push-ups for the soul. Without carving time out of the day to connect with one’s essence, it will not know who we are and what we crave and how to communicate our deepest selves imaginatively.
Read, discuss, and find ways to become more enlightened. These are ways we stimulate ourselves with the awesome ideas that humble us into realizing we don’t know everything, there is much wisdom, and we must not be afraid to ask questions.
A few years ago, a wonderful friend was feeling confused by her Judaism and how it fit into her life. She remarked how she had so many questions and felt very small because she knew so little but was afraid to ask questions for fear of sounding ignorant and for being judged by asking them. She almost felt it was a sin to even ask. Somehow she was convinced asking questions were against Torah law. Asking questions is the greatest way to tap into our holy souls. Without questions we cannot learn, we cannot thrive, we cannot captivate our greatest potentials. Judaism welcomes questions, encourages questions, and prompts questions daily.
Recently a very brilliant musician and friend felt stumped in his creative process. He had all the pieces, but just needed perspective in finding an innovative way to cultivate his passion into a meaningful reality. He was creatively at an impasse but instead of wallowing in his own self-pity, he reached out and asked for help. He called me to get some feedback, and within the hour, he was given a lift to his self-doubts, a fresh new perspective, and was armed with new ideas for his project. He had it inside of him the whole time, but by connecting with another person, and by giving me a chance to explore his endeavor together with him, he was able to find the answers he was looking for. Sometimes all we need is a friend to bounce our ideas off of. When two souls connect, it can create harmony, which is a Divine experience that feeds the soul.
4. Good ‘ole FUN
Need a creative lift? Break the routine. Have dinner with friends, play with your children in the park, take a nap, have a spa day, do a favor for someone, visit a sick person who needs company. These are nurturing your creativity just by changing your attitude and finding joy in your day. Believe it or not, being joyous is a mitzvah in the Torah! And when we give ourselves a break from the monotony of our routine, than it can foster the greatest amount of creativity. When we are at peace we get the best aha moments. Like in the shower, during a brisk walk, or even- yes I’m going to say it (even though it is not fun) sitting in traffic. But we can only have those creative outbursts if we allow ourselves to rest it out, hand it over to our Higher Power, and realize it is not about us, but rather, we are just the vehicles sent to express what is meant to be put out into the world.
If we have appreciation for our spirit and allow it to flourish by feeding it then we will never have another “blank page”. (I say that in quotes since the doomed “blank page” is a metaphor for anyone’s creative stump.)
Thank you to my dear friends and readers for inspiring my own blank page to consistently get filled and for allowing my own spirit to take flight and soar. (And yes, I did come up with this essay while sitting on the freeway during traffic.)