Whether you’re an artist, a homemaker or an accountant, in order to live a creatively charged life you have to find inspiration. Connecting with your creative self ultimately fuels every aspect of your life and brings a renewed appreciation for the world around you – its beauty, its opportunities, its energy… How, exactly, can you spark and harness that inspiration? The following list offers a few ideas.
When it comes to creativity, an artist’s focus is critical to his/her ability to produce good work. When I’m “on,” when I’m enmeshed in the creative process ideas, formation and execution exist symbiotically. It’s easy to become totally absorbed in the creative flow when this happens, and hours can go by before I even realize the time. Occasionally, though, I also have bouts of frustration as I try to access my inner muse and she wants to be anywhere but here. Those of us who are fortunate enough to practice our craft for a living face a particular challenge… to create, which is a delicate process, on demand in a world whose conditions often seem to conspire against that process. How can we find and don our creative skins each day? For many artists, including me, one way is with a ritual.
Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent van Gogh and Virginia Woolf all had something in common. They all suffered from depression. There have been fascinating studies in the past few decades that acknowledge a link between creativity and depression. In fact, a large number of the world’s greatest composers, writers and artists have suffered from various forms of mental illness, from depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This realization isn’t surprising, though, if you know creative people.
A live arts experience can be fleeting. A play or concert might only last two hours. A poetry reading – even less. A visit to a museum offers palpable pleasure while physically there, but, as they say, you can’t take it with you. By the time we return home the multiple, finer details of a cultural experience are already fading. Sifting through the day’s mail or cleaning the dishes, we might only remember key moments or an overall impression of what we’d seen just hours before. Some of us wish the moment could have lasted longer or, better yet, come home with us to be played over and over again. An arts experience, so moving at the time, is impermanent. Why, then, do so many of us spend our hard-earned money on an art experience, when the benefits could be perceived as nothing but temporary?
We are not created equal. Some of us are more graceful than others. Some don’t just sing a song – they emote it. And some of us create paintings so meaningful that they reach into the soul, inspiring others to “feel” more than is simply seen. And then there’s Alice Burla. One of the youngest students to ever be accepted into Juilliard, the award-winning prodigy doesn’t just play the piano. She communes with it.
We live in a world where a quick, temporary fix is often chosen over a long-term, more permanent solution to a challenge. Sadly, Broadway is no exception. Fifteen years ago, in response to dwindling audiences, theatrical producers started recruiting celebrities in an attempt to draw crowds. This practice may not have really solved the problem and has, essentially, changed the face of New York theater. The change hasn’t always been for the better.
The homeless… Hidden in plain sight, we often walk right by these unfortunate souls, avoiding their eyes as much as we avoid any thought about their misfortune or desperation. I’m not sure why. Is it fear? A concern that their condition might be contagious? Or that we’ll be asked to give more than we think we can afford? Do some of us even blame them for their own predicament? Whatever the answer, by ignoring these individuals we deny their humanity. And by denying their humanity, we also diminish our own.