Very often the effort men put into activities that seem completely useless turns out to be extremely important in ways no one could foresee. Play has always been the mainspring of culture.
— Italo Calvino (Journalist and writer, 1923-1985)
The ego trip of pursuing ART, with a capital A is just another trap which is bound, sooner or later, to trigger new blocks to our actual creativity.
So to help us avoid taking ourselves too seriously, Julia advises that we nurture ourselves with playful endeavors, which are more like hobbies than Art. Our willingness to be a bit silly, to experiment, and most of all, to lose our stifled, self-conscious attitude is key to liberating our creative inner artist child. She notes that in order to breathe, our creativity must be freed from “the narrow parameters of capital A art.”
To do so, she reminds us of the treasures we discover, when we adhere to our morning pages and artist dates. Within them, we will stumble across long forgotten samplings of our own past creative pleasures:
- “I had forgotten all about those paintings I did in high school. I loved painting the flats in drama tech!”
- “I suddenly remembered I played Antigone – who could forget her? I don’t know if I was any good, but I remember I loved it!”
- “I’d forgotten all about the skits I wrote when I was ten. I set them all to Ravel’s Bolero, no matter what they were about. I made my brothers and sisters swoon around the living room.”
- “I used to tap-dance. I know you can’t believe it now, but I was something!”
The point of all this is for us to realize we are vastly creative beings. Few of us are one-trick ponies. Besides our main passions, we have almost certainly had joyful flirtations and long love affairs on the side with historical fiction or haiku; bonsai, beading, and baking; or perhaps watercolors, needlepoint or the oboe. Why not make a list? You might be amazed at all the creative dabbling and exploring you have enjoyed.
Julia points out, “We are intended to create. We refurbish a dowdy kitchen, tie bows on a holiday cat, experiment with a better soup. The same child who brewed perfume from a dab of this and a dash of that, half dish soap, part cinnamon, grows up to buy [or better, make] potpourri and to boil a spice pot that says, ‘Christmas.’
“As gray, as controlled, as dreamless as we may strive to be, the fire of our dreams will not stay buried. The embers are always there, stirring in our frozen souls like winter leaves. They won’t go away. They are sneaky. We make a crazy doodle in a boring meeting. We post a silly card on our office board. We nickname the boss something wicked. Plant twice as many flowers as we need.”
Just like the fruitful, extravagant, playful, lushly abundant Gods and Goddesses that we are!