It’s a little frightening to think that joy, creativity, and spiritual connection can become conditional.
I have always counted joy and creativity to be some of my best traits, and spirituality has always seemed to be correlated to my creativity. The more I connect with creativity by writing, processing thoughts, and entertaining possibilities, the more I am open to spiritual input, challenge, questions, and inspiration.
However, as life has gotten busier and more stressful, with seemingly realistic and important tasks as foremost priorities, my creativity and joy and thus my sense of spiritual connection have begun to wane. They begin to close up, like flowers on neglected plants. And it scares me. It scares me to think that, put under the wrong conditions, I might have no access to the inner forces that make me tick and keep me walking forward, inspired, every day.
This is how I see it: when there a margin of extra time in my life that is not filled with a scheduled activity or a task that needs to be completed, THERE IS POSSIBILITY FOR THAT TIME.
I could do anything. I could sit under a tree and just stare at its leaves for hours. I could walk around downtown for no particular reason. I could read a book I’ve always wanted to read. If so compelled, I could go buy food for that homeless person on the corner and talk to them for a bit. I could call up an old friend that I’ve needed to talk to for a while, to have coffee with them. I have nowhere I have to be and nothing I have to do, and so I am free to let possibilities, unpredictability, and adventure into my life. And being in tune with possibilities, unpredictability, and adventure is the food of writing creatively.
To write creatively, one needs to be able to consider multiple ends, be open to changes in plot and characters, and experiment with adding and removing certain elements from the story.
Oddly enough, however, having margin in my life and seeing the almost immediate effects upon my joy and creativity scares me more than the waning of such forces. What scares me is how quickly those things seem to return as soon as I allow or accept margin in my life, as though I were in control of all inspiration and input into my life,
Yet, I suppose, this fear shows that creativity and joy are powerful things, and I am only a few steps into the journey of understanding the mystery that is them.
All that I know, right now, is that this week I’ve learned a lot from the margin I have given myself.
I gave myself the margin and the space to feel sorrow.
I found the mental space to wonder about spiritual questions that often get deadened and degraded by a “realistic life.”
Within mental and emotional margin, I wrote, exploring the possibilities of characters and life.
I walked the downtown sidewalks for an hour with no particular agenda, just drinking in the presence, essence, and noises of those around me.
I sat at a crowded dinner table of co-workers, amidst uproarious and ridiculous laughter and stories, learning to see a different layer to these people that I normally see every day.
I perched on my porch, delighting in the chilly, windy day that heralded winter, practicing the in-progress art of playing the ukulele.
I biked to work amidst said chilly wind, pedaling too quickly with too little result because of the gear shift that won’t change.
I drank in creative energy as the possibilities in life opened up, just for a day. I guess there’s a reason that we’re supposed to take life day by day, then. Creating margin in one’s life is a powerful change that can only be made slowly, through a re-wiring of how we think. We must unlearn the thinking that our worth comes from how busy we are and how productive our work seems even at the expense of personal life. We need to learn when to stop and rest. Hopefully, creativity and joy will follow, not because they come solely from rarely-occuring margin, but because we have learned to tap into them in every moment.