Monday, October 26, 2009

The Courage to Create

In his book, The Courage to Create, Rollo May explores the dilemma of the truly creative act, to envision and make art despite the chaos and brutality of the world. He points out that imagining new forms, new symbols and new patterns that can open the way to a new society takes the guts to reach through the ego's tight grip and caress the churning forces beneath the surface of the known world.
Often, we think of creative work as an escape or transcendence of daily life's boredom and conflict. Yet, this is the mind dabbling in fantasy. It can produce work that is pretty or intellectually intriguing. But, like the empty calories of an sugar cube, the sweetness stimulates the tongue, while the body starves. The courage to create is the courage to stop looking in the rear view mirror for creative inspiration and enter the unknown territory ahead. It is to perceive what is being born through the clouds of fear and hope and facilitate what can deeply nourish the birth of the new. The courage to create slices through the ego's worries about criticism and disappointment and risks utter failure in the vain attempt to describe the indescribable. It allows the life force gnawing at your belly to express itself unedited by current beliefs of what is politically or spiritually correct. The courage to create is the courage to live. It is the most difficult act to engage. Yet without the courageously creative acts of artists from every walk of life, our days would be dull, uninspired and humorless.

On the other hand, courageous creativity doesn't have to be an heroic feat of monumental proportions. We don't have to redesign cities, hang paintings on MOMA's walls, or cure cancer to make courageous gestures of creativity. In a moment, we can open our minds and bodies to a direct, unfiltered encounter with where we stand, who we are with and what we are doing. In that spacious moment, we can see we are already swimming in the currents of a courageously creative universe. We can see that that all we are being called to do is willingly participate.

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