The ability and the need to be creative are hard-wired into all of us. I speak to so many people who tell me they make things (drawings, soufflé, jewelry, movies, pop songs) because they just have to. They can't help it. It's a basic urge, an irrepressible impulse.
Yet an awful lot of people are able to suppress it. They trudge back and forth in a rut, never reinventing a single day. They jump to conclusions about themselves and their abilities and their obligations that they think will help them avoid conflict. They make certain choices that they think will prevent others from being disappointed, shocked, or angry.
But deep inside them, a little ember flickers. That ember is their dream, the thing that they could really like to do, if only. If only they had the time, the talent, the education, the tools, the money, the support, the freedom. But because they have decided long ago that they can't, they lock that little spark in a big steel box, hoping to suffocate it once and for all, and then they rush on with their chores and obligations.
But the ember won't go out. Instead it heats up the steel box, and they start to feel the need again. It gets hotter and the feeling turns to pain. So they reach for anesthetic.
Our society is full of anesthetics - drugs, booze, television, mass culture, destructive behaviours, anger, defensiveness, selfishness - all are ways to take us away from experiencing the here and now, from being in touch with our true nature.
When we continue to deny who we truly are and suppress our ability to create, we become crippled and shut down. Our minds grow narrower as we shut out anything unexpected that doesn't fit with how we've told ourselves the world truly is.
We grow remote from others, categorising and stereotyping the people we meet, threatened and afraid, unable to see them clearly and fully. We speed through life, wanting to get onto the next thing, unable to take pleasure in the moment.
We chart life on a checklist, ticking off experiences as if they were chores, overly committed to our views and unable to deal with the unexpected. We seem distracted and spaced out, unable to hear what our family members say to us, always preoccupied with some other place and time.
Ironically, our society tends to portray artists as dreamers. But those who suppress their creativity are actually the ones living in a dream. An artist is someone who sees and feels reality very intensely.
Creativity doesn't mean just making things up out of thin air. It means seeing and feeling the world so vividly that you can put together connections and patterns that help to explain reality. It means you see the beauty in the world rather than trying to hide from it.