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Illness Breeds Creativity….

As many of you know, after becoming ill over the summer and consequently not being able to go out as much, I managed to channel some of that energy into creativity. In fact, at certain points, my need to create became almost manic, my need to connect with other human beings more intense. The result has been somewhat impressive; over the span of two months, I’ve rescued hundreds of poems that I’m in the process of editing and compiling into volumes, I’ve revised short stories I’d forgotten, and the process of doing so has given birth to the idea of my first novel, an idea that’s currently spawned nearly 60,000 words.

In addition, something has changed about the way I’m interested in pursuing friendships. I’ve always been the type happiest in a crowd; the more, the merrier. As a result of my extroverted yet guarded nature, I have a very large network of acquaintances, but a much smaller number of good friends. I don’t always take the time to get to know people one-on-one, which comes off as a bit snobbish, indifferent, aloof, whatever you want to call it. It isn’t that I don’t care, it’s simply that I’m too busy getting to meet as many people as possible and to play the gallant hostess that I truly get to know very few people. Recently, that’s changed, and I think the change is a positive one. I’m making more of an effort to keep up with friends and family. I’m more frequently reminding myself to check in with those important to me, even if it’s just a Facebook comment here or there. I’m more actively taking the time to open up the lines of conversation with acquaintances I find interesting in some way, and in the past, never took the time for a one-on-one dialogue. I’m opening myself up more, and noticing that perhaps there are people all throughout my life, people I’ve been too self-absorbed to endeavour to get to know fully. My social group, of course, is suffering due to lack of interest on my part, but I’m suddenly looking for something deeper from my interactions with others.

One of my recent interests has been Swap-Bot, a site that allows crafty people, artists, writers, etc. to create and swap everything from art to correspondence to packages. It is immense fun, receiving little pieces of mail from all over the world, and I enjoy the feeling of somehow being connected to a greater world out there, even if, for the time being, I’m confined to a relatively small piece of it. It is also refreshing to be able to create, even something small, to send to a stranger who genuinely appreciates both the end result and the process of creation.

I’ve communicated with many different people from all walks of life, and while there aren’t many with whom I found I have too terribly much in common, that’s par for the course for me. However, I did have a swap partner by the name of Melynda, who I found utterly fascinating, from the beautiful handwriting to the style of communication that lets on someone isn’t just crafty and creative, but an artist. After reading her website, I realised what I was struck by was that she is truly a gifted writer, and one who observes the world in a full spectrum of colour.

Oddly, and not just because of the name, she reminded me of a poet I used to know by the name of Melinda, one whose presence and light and talent I’ve missed for a very long time. Anyhow, this Melynda sent me a quote, one that I believe sums up so much of how I view the world, particularly through these days of illness and struggle for normalcy:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To him, a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and a failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create–so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency, he is not alive unless he is creating.”

Pearl S. Buck

Tonight, a long-time acquaintance and new friend of mine said he feels as if he needs to see live music in order to be happy. I told him I thought this was a good thing; it shows a passion for life, a need to feed the soul. The way all of us need food, drink, love, shelter, and all the basic necessities of life, some of us need creative energy.

I am reminded of a few relationships in my life where I was not free to be myself, I felt required to mold myself into a certain role, a certain vision—and during those times, I did not create, and walked through each day feeling as if I’d sacrificed pieces of myself in order to make something work, this idea of relationships that it seems everyone else has and desires, and I should share as well.

I am also reminded of a few relationships with artists, passionate souls who put the desire for creation above virtually all else, and who consequently were able to not only accept and embrace, but encourage my unconventionality, and push the boundaries even further. These were typically the most creatively successful periods of my life; however, the relationships always inevitably ended up failing because the stability and certainty of not being abandoned that i crave was never present. I don’t like coming in second to anything, not even creative passion.

When I am happy, content in that mundane way where nothing is provoking any extreme emotion, it’s as if I forget I am an artist at heart. When I am too concerned with my daily workload, my household chores, my social group, my responsibilities, I forget to have passion for things; I grow complacent, disinterested.

Ironically, being more limited in my ability to spend time with others, to go out and experience the world, has renewed an inspiration, a zest for life and love and making new friends and having new adventures, and knowing that when I get through all this, there will indeed be more chapters to my story.

There is a hidden up side to even the most challenging of times in life, and the up-side of my recent struggles is that I’ve been reminded of who I am, on the most simple, essential level. I don’t always remember to take time to be that person, because I’m too concerned with success vs. failure, with being liked by others, with being like others. I’m not, in many ways, and that’s OK.

I have chosen to limit myself to please other people too often, to be accepted by a culture that still sees me as “too much”, even at my most toned down. If I lived in New York still, would I feel the pressure to do this? Somehow, I don’t think I would, because I purposely surrounded myself with the unique, the intelligent, the creative, the people who saw the world differently. Here, I’ve found great friends with different unique and wonderful attributes, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the focus on individuality and self-expression.

I am more actively seeking out these attributes and making them a part of my world, through getting in touch with myself, and meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends, and staying more open to experiences and growth and possibility. I think it’s a positive change.

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