The Power of Creativity
This past weekend, I had the chance to launch my newest art show, UTPALA, on Koh Samui, showcasing over 10 new paintings and 10 new drawings. They were many ideas which have been brooding for some time – years actually. As an arts educator, I have taken many students through this process, helping them to find their artistic voice come through. And going through this process again, reminded me of the nourishing, firing power of creativity, when we allow it to pass through our unique abilities, skills and talents.
UTPALA is a Sanskrit term from ut “up, out, forward” and pali “to move, to blossom, to burst forth”.
In many ways it took on the experience of the creative process itself. The “oh, wouldn’t it be nice to…” or the “I don’t know how to…” became “yes”, fueled by the power of creativity.
How do you start to harness this force?
How do you start to create something new, to push yourself to a new limit?
1. Say YES.
Say a confident yes. Set a deadline, and don’t let that move. Even when you beg others for more time to prepare and make more it doesn’t help. It just weakens the urgency of the action you must take. Hold yourself to that “yes” and carve out the time to make it happen. Some things will have to be adjusted and more time devoted to that focused effort. If you want something big, different, new, you have to move a few mountains along the way. But this starts with making it an unrelenting yes.
2. Forget yourself.
When you say “yes” to something new and glorious, you are redefining the concept of who you think yourself to be. It gives you the chance to step into a new role and try to push an edge of conventional habits and patterns that you build up over the years. But who you are is how you rise to life in front of you. How do you approach these challenges that beckon you? Say “yes”, before you are ready, and become that “yes”, before you know how. It will come, because you started it with that firm decision.
3. Tell others. Focus your efforts.
Say an accountable “yes”. Say it out loud, to others, before you feel ready. Before you even know how it will all happen, Then a lot of trust, grit, hope and joy. That’s what can help make the seemingly impossible possible. If you announce your intention to others, whatever it is: “I am going to train for a marathon”, “I am learning a new language”, “I am building something new in my area…”, “I am giving back to my community in this way….”, you allow others to step in, to help support you, converse with you, link you with contacts, ideas and inspiration, and even just check in with how you are doing from time to time.
The moment I decided to have the show in this new space, an unwavering deadline was firmly set, the gallery developer and I came to an agreement – we were both going to move towards that action together, and we could encourage one another on, but there would be no going back, no letting down. It didn’t matter what happened afterward, we just wanted to launch the space. Focus on the action, don’t worry so much about the outcome.
“Set thy heart upon thy work but never its reward.”
– Bhagavad Gita
4. Work with others.
Working on the project with another, our resources both increased exponentially. “Do you know how to do this? – Yes, I have a friend…” “Do you know where to get wooden boards? – Yes, I know this person…” Conversations with friends because about art, liters of paint sitting around on shelves were handed out, images shared and ideas sparked, framers suggested, models magically appeared – it all became a communal, supporting force because the action was focused and shared.
5. Take care of your body and space
It is easy to get burned out and over-excited along the way of a large and daunting creative project. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of late nights, no sleep, and running on adrenaline. It’s easy to tell yourself that something you have imagined isn’t possible. It’s easy to quit. So, taking time to focus your day every morning, having a ritual and routine to help ground more elevated and exciting times, let’s you stabilize and check in with your state and needs. Taking some time to explore the breath, the mind and the heart, to move body, allow tightness and tensions to release through deep breathing and focused, slower movements like that in asana, or faster, more cathartic release through cardio and sweat helps you stay in tune with your state while you explore creative ideas. Give yourself a structure and base to the harness all the ideas and inspiration rushing through the mind and tasks ahead.
UTPALA. Is also a word for lotus. The white lotus in India. The blue in Egypt. Something which broods in deep dark, the underbelly, the muck and mud. With continued patience, perseverance, dedication and might, at some unforeseen moment, it bursts above the usual into a higher realm.
What inspires you? What do you reach towards? Say “yes” to it before you are ready.
Take a leap. Enjoy the ride.
How surely gravity’s law
Strong as an ocean current,
Takes hold of even the strongest thing
And pulls it toward the heart of the world.
– each stone, blossom, child
– is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
Push out beyond what we belong to
For some empty freedom.
If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence
We could rise up, rooted, like trees …
This is what the things can teach us: to fall,
Patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
Before he can fly.
– Book of Hours, Rainer Maria Rilke
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