How to Live a More Fulfilling and Creative Life
I remember myself at 13 years of age, standing in one of these big aquariums. I believe it was in Eilat, a town by the Red Sea in Israel. I was awestruck by the endless colors, shapes, and variety of sea creatures floating in front of my amazed eyes.
I recall thinking: How could God come up with so many variations of fish? How could He [God was a He at that point in my life] invent so many shapes and colors? Where are all these ideas coming from? He must be unbelievably creative. I wish I could have one-quarter of his talent.
Later, I started noticing the endless shades of yellow, gold, red, and brown painted on the falling leaves. I began noticing faces of people and shapes of clouds. I kept being amazed at God’s talent and creativity. Some years later, I started to suspect that a little bit of this talent for the creative lived within me, a gift I was supposed to cherish and cultivate. Maybe, I thought, this is my way of playing with God and creating for Him. It was fun to create, and I liked to imagine that it was making Him smile with pleasure.
“What does it mean exactly, to live creatively?” you might be asking. The first thing I want to say about it is that it does not mean to be an artist or necessarily create anything that falls into the category of artwork. It means to live intimately with your childlike nature, your Emotional Self. Even when it is pained by unresolved past experiences, it longs for creative expression. It loves adventures. It loves nature. And it is up for fun and silliness, if given the permission and the opportunity.
Our creative and expressive nature endures many blows, from childhood on. We are told not to cry like babies when we are only two or three years old. We’re told to sit still, stop giggling, stop being silly, stop screaming, stop singing, stop making faces, and so on. In other words, the message is: Stop having a good time. Stop experiencing your feelings.
Our ability to live creatively begins to diminish early on. We must learn to be “good.” We cannot take the risk of losing love, so we begin to cultivate our Defensive Self—tactics for emotional survival.
If being expressive and creative is not approved of, we learn to repress it. Slowly and surely, we forget the feeling of expressive freedom. We comply with our parents’ demands and expectations and then those of teachers, peers, bosses, lovers, neighbors, and even strangers. We learn to be what we are expected to be. We learn that it is important to get ahead, make money, raise a family, and be responsible. There is nothing in this script that tells us to “be ourselves.”
We are the ones who are now responsible to liberate our own creative expression and free ourselves to be.
This is a tricky process. We descend into scary realms, we grieve, we release, we soar, we give birth to ourselves, and we learn to be. It is also a creative process that teaches us courage and inspires us to keep living life as an adventure.