The Creative Soul vs The Responsibile Adult

Last night Steven and I went out to a bonfire with some old friends that we hadn't seen in ages.  At some point in the evening, this friend and I (who have known each other for about 25 years) were catching up about our "grown up lives" and he made the comment that he recently had an opportunity to sing with a friend at a party.  He said it felt like it did back in the day and how much he enjoyed it.  I challenged him to actually make that a priority in his life this year, as he is just crazy talented and creative.  

On our way home, Steven and I were talking about the evening and what happens with all of us and our creative energies.  Being involved with a man that has made pottery his career, he represents the "paid professional" side of our household.  There are many decisions and sacrifices he has made along the way to stay true to that calling.  As I have mentioned before, I was in the theater for years and one of the reasons I got out of it was because I really needed a steady paycheck and wanted a house of my own and I didn't see that happening in the theater.  That decision is one that many of us made a long time ago about our art.  Theater was not something that I needed to do everyday or die.  It was not something that I wanted to sacrifice the creature comforts for, not travel for, not something I wanted to go hungry for, or not pay my light bill for, or work four other jobs for so I could afford to be an actress.  What happened is that the creative soul in me started the slow and agonizing death that I never realized happened until much later in life.  Oh for a while it was sustained when I taught choir and drama at a Catholic School and could direct productions, and then again for awhile when I had a catering company with "directing" events and cooking.  But when I went into the public schools to teach swimming, that creativity was on ice for awhile. 

Working in an inner city school will take a toll on anyone's spirit.  Being in those trenches and dealing with the atrocities done to kids on a daily basis forced some parts of me to change.  There are parts I have to keep at a distance (sympathy, a gentle, passive spirit and belief that justice will prevail , the artist that wants to see the good and beauty in everything) so I am not consumed by the ugliest of humanity and parts of me I have to work harder at bringing out (empathy and unemotional compassion, a fighter's spirit for what is wrong and unjust, the ability to find resources and navigate the worst of bureaucracy, the ability to love and discipline without enabling bad behavior because I feel so sorry for them) and I love those things with which I grow stronger.  At then end of 2009, I decided it was time for some beauty to enter back into my life in the form of ensemble work and I started singing again.  Why is this so important?  That sensitive artist side of me was in danger of disappearing, as it is for anyone who is in the middle of LIFE and the crap it deals us sometimes.  What is it about our creative spirits that are so in need of nurture?

When I am creative, I am 100% totally IN THE MOMENT.  There is no laundry list that is happening in my head when I am sight reading 200 pages of Bach.  There is no guilt or fear in making notes into beautiful, harmonic, and emotional phrases.  I also feel more spiritual than animal in those moments.  Connected, part of something bigger than myself.  That is also true to a certain extent when I am planning an event, or cooking a meal, or arranging flowers, or gardening, or whatever that fix is.  Steven said last night, "Art is such a centering thing".  My spirit feels lighter when I am creative.  I am like King Kong on cocaine when I have a positive ensemble experience.  It is part of the drug that lured me years ago.  The journey that I am on now is one that the adult me is trying to navigate.  I most certainly need art in my life.  I think we all do.  Because I left that life when I was so young, I never figured out how to be an adult artist.  Now the challenge becomes how to make it a priority and make it work in my life as that "Responsible Adult".  I have many friends that have made their art their livelihood and I am in awe of you, especially with how difficult the last few years have been.  I have seen the struggles up close and personal with some souls that I love and I know it has been uphill.   

Creativity comes in all sorts of packages, as we all know.  I would like to give that challenge to everyone.  BE THE ARTIST AGAIN or for the first time.  Figure out how to make the beauty and centering art actually work in your grown up lives, no matter what it is; ensemble or otherwise.  Remember what you loved (or find what you love if you don't know) and incorporate it into your crazy schedule lives in any way you can make it fit.  And watch some things change, center your spirit, and tap into that humanity again.    

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