We are required to keep a journal in my Scene Study class, and every week we are given a topic to write about. This week's was creativity - how did we express it as a child, and how to we continue to feed the creative well today. I will probably add more to this entry in my class journal over the weekend, but I thought I'd compy some of the initial thoughts over to this blog as well.
When I was little, I used to put on records and dance. Particularly vivid in my mind is one record (yes, record...made of vinyl and everything) called "Gypsy Melodies" which had a photo of a very exotic dark-haired woman on the cover, with lots of eye makeup, hoop earrings, and a red tank top with one shoulder strap drooping off the side. The appropriate attire for dancing to this record was an ankle-length chiffon purple circle skirt that had been my Mom's in high school, bare feet, and a sheer white curtain which could be used as a veil, a scarf, a belt, or whatever else the movement required. I would entertain myself for hours, dancing to this record, and many others. Sometimes I would create a storyline, sometimes just move free form to the music.
Other times, I would recruit my brother and sisters and the neighbor children to act out stories with me, using the big metal drum full of dress-up clothes we had in the basement. Hansel and Gretel was one of our favorites, and Cinderella, and Annie. I always loved dressing up.
We also used to play outside a lot, and most of our games consisted of "play-acting" stories. I was never much for organized sports games, and I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 12. Instead, I tromped through the woods acting out Robin Hood adventures, or building fairy houses with moss and twigs, or searching for the wicked witch's house amongst the gone-to-seed apple trees. I had raging cases of poison ivy as a kid. The large rocks deposited on each piece of property in our town (built on a granite quarry) were host to many imaginary scenes as well - picnics, and tea parties, and anguished last stands.
Creativity today. Every time I'm confronted with this question, I'm flooded with a feeling of guilt and dissatisfaction. In a way, I'm engaging my creativity every day, through the simple fact that I'm pursuing an MFA in theater. Much of my creative energy is poured into my classes, my homework, and of course, the work that I do on productions here. I have seen and been a part of more theater in the past four months than in the previous five years combined. But I think in order for the creative soul to be fed, the critical mind needs to be silenced. At least temporarily. And that is quite difficult to do.
When I was a child, I played creatively because I loved it. It was fun. And that was all. It wasn't for a grade, for recognition, or least of all for a paycheck. And once all those things are added on to the creative process, it changes it somehow. The answer seems simple - be creative in ways that you love, and do it just for you! Simple, but not easy. There's the time factor, there's the guilt factor (if it 's not earning me money it's not worth pursuing) and there's the fatigue factor. Pursuing creativity takes energy - yes, it feeds energy as well, but it is certainly more taxing than kicking back and watching American Idol.
So, I try to be deliberate about it. Reading plays for enjoyment, rather than for class. Playing the piano. Writing in my personal blog. It's an effort, to be sure, but I recognize the importance of it, and I hope that by being mindful and pursuing it deliberately will eventually reap the fruit of the joyful involvement of doing it for the sheer pleasure of doing it.
What about you? Is creativity important to your life now? How did you express it as a child? How do you feed your creative well now?