Make Your Life a Work of Art
Creativity is about artful living, not just making art.
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Creativity is often perceived as a blessing bestowed upon those who call themselves artists. Observed and encouraged in most children, creativity seems to disappear when playful youngsters become responsible adults. Where does it go? The late psychologist J.P. Guilford might have answered that it’s not gone, but forgotten.
Creative acts,” said eminent psychologist J.P. Guilford, “can be expected of all individuals. Those persons who are recognized as creative merely have more of what everyone has.”
Another scholar of the human psyche, Jean Shinoda Bolen, believes that every person has a treasure trove of original natural talents that may lie buried, or overlooked. Like most hidden treasures, these talents need to be excavated, and recognized for their true value.
“It is a mistaken belief that mechanics, carpenters, seamstresses, mathematicians, psychotherapists, business owners, mothers, fathers, gardeners and many others aren’t artists,” says Bolen, author of The Tao of Human Psychology: Synchronicity and the Self. “Creativity has much to do with intellectual and practical wisdom, and it is inseparable from mastering something and knowing how to do it in our own way.”
Bolen says all “spiritual beings on a human path” are responsible for discovering and developing their unique talents “because they serve to shape our life, which I like to refer to as our Magnum Opus, our true Great Work of art.”
Unearthing Natural Talents
One of the most prolific authors and teachers on the subject of discovering and recovering creative gifts is Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Cameron, who has written dozens of books, three musicals, four plays and one film, agrees with Bolen’s intertwining view of life and art. “Our art is supposed to be something we do in and with our life, which is the larger container that holds our art,” she says. “Rather than yearning to be full-time artists, we might aspire to be full-time humans. When we do, art is the overflow of a heart-filled life.”
Cameron has a toolkit for unblocking the artist in everyone. One fundamental tool is a daily uncensored writing practice—called Morning Pages—that brings clarity, insight, and sometimes new directions and ideas before the business of daily life kicks in. Other important tools of The Artist’s Way include weekly solo Artist’s Dates (time spent observing, experiencing, sensing and playing for the pure pleasure of it) and rambling walks, which Cameron herself credits with providing guaranteed fodder for her creative fires. Worth their weight in gold to any creative miner, these and other exercises from her books have helped thousands to reconnect with childhood’s playful state of delight.
“Picasso said that we are all born children,” says Cameron. “The trick is to remain one, lean into our ease and enjoy the ride of our gift.”
Cameron’s metaphor for the Morning Pages—running a vacuum cleaner around one’s consciousness to suck up the soundtracks that clutter the mind—reveals just a smidgeon of her natural talent for creating reader-friendly visuals. “Writing stream of consciousness thoughts on pages frees up what I call alpha ideas, like ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to…,’ or ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to…,’ and ‘Gee, I could let myself explore…,’” explains the articulate creative.