While we often need to be challenged to get outside of our comfort zones, we all know that trying new things is good for us. We all know that we grow when we stretch ourselves. The beauty and necessity of adventure is written on our hearts. We all know that learning new things about ourselves and the world around us, especially through experience, pushes us to be better versions of ourselves.
We all know this because we are aware that the fruits of these life-experiences enrich our lives. They add depth and color to our perception of the world around us, they teach us, and they encourage us to change the world, even if it’s just our little corner of it. The difficulty, however, is that no experience last forever. As we transition out of a life-experience, the things we learned don’t always follow naturally. Somehow, we must learn how to take the fruits from one phase of life with us into the next. The natural, human response is to cling to the things we have learned or the experience we have gained, knowing that it is good and we don’t want to lose it. It doesn’t take long to realize that these things look different in a new context, however, and to become discouraged as they lose their sparkle.
“Yes, this world is turning.
Yes, this air is alive.
Yes, to be static is an illusion, and,
Yes, to be creative is our calling.”
Clinging to the fruits of our experiences, paradoxically, causes their death. We do not remain static, no matter how hard we may try. So, how do we fully live this reality that the world is turning, while at the same time carrying lessons learned and experiences gained with us? For the sake of clarity, I am going to use a somewhat cliché analogy here. When we experience new things, we absorb new perspectives, new understandings, and personal growth like a sponge. There is then a point in which we are no longer being poured into.
If we simply hold these things in, they become stale. Eventually, new experiences invade, and in contrast what was once beautiful looks worn, and eventually like it was never really much to begin with. These precious fruits get discarded, and eventually pushed out the bottom for the sake of something new and shiny. Fortunately, this is not our only option.
Go back to the sponge for a minute, and imagine, instead of trying to hold onto the fruits of our experiences, we squeeze them out onto a nice, metaphorical canvas. This process is going to practically look different for everyone. For some it may actually be a canvas, for some it’s in writing, for some it’s through music. It could be in sewing, building, cooking, carving, or gardening. Creativity is simply a matter of allowing the results of experiences moving through our senses and intellect to take on matter, and thus become accessible to the outside world.
This outpouring can also occur without being stereotypically artistic; it can be pouring a new curiosity into daily living, or taking a refined way of interacting with people to the office. What’s important is that there is an outpouring of our new understandings, our new perspectives, and our new selves.
This seems counter-intuitive, if the goal was to prevent ourselves from losing over time what we have gained. How is it that the solution to our inability to freeze time, to prevent change, or to retain the things we have gained is to willingly pour them out? How is it that by wringing ourselves out, we save the fruits of our experience?
It makes sense that this action prevents our gains from becoming stale within us, but wouldn’t it be better hold onto some semblance of their original luster than to lose them completely?
No. We were made to live life, not to the semblance of the fullest, but to the fullest. When we wring ourselves out, when we express what we have received, and pass it on to others, they can then take and absorb it for themselves. And then...(are you ready for it? This is where we begin to encounter our experiences to the fullest)…they add their own perspective from their own experience, wring themselves out in their own act of expression, and it comes back to you, fresh once again, and filled with new life.
Rather than clinging to something, letting it grow musty, the fruits of our experiences remain with us and remain alive when we share them.
Now, like all good things in life, this isn’t always easy. To put these things into the hands of others naturally comes with uncertainty.
What if they don’t respond? What is they don’t give it back? What if they transform it for the worse? What if they don’t understand?
These are all risks we take. These are all things that are going to happen. But the risk is still worth it. If the response is not what you desire, you again have something to share, to express, and through creativity, even unfulfilled hopes can be transformed.
To be creative is to share ourselves with the world. And this, both for our own good, and for that of the world, is indeed, our calling.