Welcome to 31 Days of Self-care

What does it mean to be alive?

The answer lies in our ability to create and through our creativity express compassion.

When I was a little girl, I lived in the country on a lake in New England, surrounded by trees and wildlife. My siblings were many years older and so it was I learned to entertain myself. For instance, I would tie one end of a jump rope to a tree, and I would hold the other and swing it over me. Or I would link it to two trees and by nudging it have it swing back and forth as I jumped over it. I would go for long walks in the forest, and the life which inhabited the trees were my friends. I would play our grand piano and pretend I was on stage performing for a vast audience. Some days I would gather sticks, leaves, water, stones, and mud and make “soup.” My imaginary friends would praise my culinary skills. Sometimes, I would sit and daydream.

At other times, on the occasion of visits with cousins, and even in the first years of my life when I still had siblings at home, we would make “hand grenades” with clay mud in the summer, and in the winter build snow forts and throw snowballs at each other. I didn’t understand those games, but it was at the time of the Vietnam War, and I suppose we were not only living out messages received from hearing adult conversations, but they also were a means of releasing feelings we subconsciously knew existed but didn’t understand.

All of the preceding examples were avenues of creativity. Of course, I didn’t see them as such at the time. Looking back, I see them also as expressions of vulnerability. In subtle ways, they allowed for growth, enlargement of my understanding of life, and means of improving myself to the point that should I choose it further in life I would have the opportunity to leave a mark on the world bigger than myself.

I wonder if the likes of Rosa Parks, Jerome Elam, or Rob Woodcox thought when they were young that they would grow up to leave a mark on the world through creativity. Creativity isn’t limited to humanity. Observe a dog saving a deer or an elephant as she rescues her baby from drowning and you will see creativity. Each of these examples shows compassion through creativity.

Imagine a world without creativity.

There would be no discussion of climate change. We would not think of music as something to be enjoyed. Gardens as groupings of beautiful flowers or rows of vegetables would not catch our eye. Artists, such as my friend Krisanne Baker would not use ecological art to teach us about the environment of water. Another friend, Leslie Cottrell Simonds, would not heal her grief through writing and painting and with this expression share with the rest of us how to heal. And Janet Nestor, who writes brilliantly on how to create wellness for ourselves would not be able to share her knowledge through stories.

All of these examples have creativity in common. Each expression of creativity allows us the opportunity to realize the wonder of what it is to be alive and to share in the beauty of other wonderment. Each shows vulnerability, and yet through our weaknesses, we can connect with each other on a worldly scale! Each allows for the opportunity to inspire further and ignite passion and compassion. Each allows for space to understand what it means to be alive and appreciate that understanding.

We are all capable of sharing our experiences and relationship with life through expressions of creativity. We are each unique, but in our uniqueness, we all share the same propensity to feel, envision, and explore. We learn to understand poverty, sensitivity, love, hunger, loss, and all other human actions and interactions.

Creativity helps fill emotional needs not met. It strengthens the bond with ourself and with other people.

Creative expression may be through –

  • Music
  • Writing
  • Cooking
  • Festivals
  • Gardening 
  • Innovations such as in science and architecture
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Orations 
  • Photography

Creativity gives us hope – faith in action.