I’m a goal oriented guy. I like to do things for some kind of reason. To be productive. To move forward in a project. When I’m not resting or hanging out with the people I love, I’m probably in this mode.
I was super psyched when my good pal suggested that we cruise around in the woods to take some photos. I love taking photos! But I’m almost always doing it with a goal in mind. Doing a freelance gig. Conjuring up a new art project. Creating a snapshot for the hard drive memory book.
As we walked among the evergreens we both found so much beauty in the world. We clicked pics. We challenged ourselves with difficult compositions, aperture settings, etc. It was fun! But something inside of me was a bit uneasy.
I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to print any of these shots. Or pop them into my portfolio. Or sell them. Or anything else.
Then I shifted. I understood something that I’ve been known to forget, even though I teach it to my music students.
The essence of creativity is play.
It’s experimenting, creating, expressing. Not for any other reason except that it feels good. It’s fun. It’s healing. It’s an essential part of our nature that we so often deny as we grow from creative powerhouse kids into stressed out adults.
A few months ago I was reminded of this. I went to my buddy Keith’s house. Keith is this great watercolor artist who hosts an open studio for his pals. I showed up with no intention except to paint up some watercolors. I suspected that I would kinda suck since I haven’t watercolored in quite awhile. But I didn’t care.
For several hours I swirled colors together and watched the pigments soak into the paper. I was mesmerized and fascinated. I wasn’t particularly interested in doing it well. I wasn’t going to sell this. I didn’t really care about the outcome. But I was in heaven.
The process of abstract painting and photographing some natural wonder gave me a sense of pure joy that I rarely feel as I run around my days and weeks and months with so many goals and deadlines. It was freedom to live in (and love!) the process.
It’s just another reminder that creativity for its own sake can be a transcendent practice. Something that heals us from the inside. Something that lights us up. Especially when we do it just for the pure joy of it.
What creative stuff do you do just for the pure joy? How does that affect you? Why do you think that such a simple concept is so difficult to remember? Tell me your stories. I want to know. I want to feature you in a future newsletter or blog post.