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What's creativity got to do with it in 2019?

The only antidote to destruction is creation.

Stephen Nachmanovitch

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Albert Einstein


These times of massive change create understandable and often intense insecurities in us. The ongoing destabilization of long-established political, social, and cultural fabrics is the new norm, however much we try to push back against its being so.

So here we are. How have we responded up till now to this, the inexorable zeitgeist of our time? In what ways have we sometimes felt simply confounded, perhaps immobilized by events that are beyond our wildest personal - or apparently even collective - attempts at changing? Where does this leave us today, as we face towards another new year, and how can we catalyze no less than paradigm-shifting renewal in such a time?

Our current state of affairs calls for something beyond tweaking existing understandings about how to make change happen. Our world won’t birth new, authentic forms of wellbeing by simply re-negotiating with what’s patently no longer working.

What if we are being urgently called beyond habitual beliefs about what’s even possible? What if we have innate though often untapped creative resources within ourselves that can actually shape-shift our current maelstrom?

Authentic creativity is far more than we typically believe it to be. It can shift us from living from the outside-in to living from inside to out. It grows the more we practice it. This kind of creativity is a rich, fertile saying yes to life - including continuing despite facing inevitable setbacks and doubts.

I call such creative living Artlife, which opens our hearts and minds to becoming quickened by a mysterious, beyond-mundane aliveness even in the midst of the most humdrum aspects of our lives. Here, unexpected doors can open, as if of their own accord, helping us explore new terrain in old places.

Such authentic creativity might lead us to get out into wild places for a full day - or even longer! - once in a while. It could bring us to marvel at how others have created, and lived, before us, in museums. It could mean taking a cooking class with our best friend or new lover. It could be volunteering for a local organization. It could even actually mean making art!

All such authentic creativity arises from responding to the world with an open hand - in other words, with love. It takes the chutzpah of radically open hands and hearts to create outcomes discontinuous with our past. Such creativity calls for each one of us to express the love that lives deep within us.

Matthew Fox once said: “Art with spirituality is inclusive, celebrative, joyous, courageous, capable of taking us into grief and beyond, energizing, open to the community in all its diversity, playful, justice-oriented, compassionate, non-sentimental, surprising and therefore spirit-filled, youthful, fresh, and always ‘in the beginning.’ Such art heals.”

Yes, such art and creativity can heal, by enlivening anything and everything in our world, large and small. Including in how we dress and cook the dinner, console a grieving friend or answer children’s challenging questions about life and death. Including how we relate with our own complex states of mind, and - last but definitely not least - how we contribute to collective political discourse and action.

The creativity Fox describes grows new possibilities - personal and collective, microcosmic and macrocosmic - by freeing us from compulsive seriousness, by experimenting as though the outcome simply doesn’t matter. It is here that we find the seeds of love itself as the ultimate form of creativity, and how to break old chains that have bound us to much that no longer serves our greater collective wellbeing.

Underlying all of this is the question of what it means to take care of ourselves when the whole world is crying out for help.

In truth, when we ourselves change, how the world responds to us changes. Apparently Ghandi never said the famous quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” However the educator Arleen Lorrance wrote, in her book The Love Project: “It came in on me loud and clear that I was the only one who could imprison (or release) me, that I was the only one I could do anything about changing. So I let go of my anger and negativism and made a decision to simply be totally loving, open and vulnerable all the time. One way to start…is to be the change you want to see happen.”

I believe that we are being deeply called to let go of disbelieving that foundational, positive change in our world is not only needed, but totally possible. And that it truly is only by changing ourselves that we mysteriously and profoundly contribute to changing the whole world.

Much love and blessings to us all as we enter this next year together, of

individual and collective unfolding.

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