Wednesday, March 11, 2009

thoughts on the drive

I've been thinking lately about the creative process. I feel this crazy drive to create things, and I've lived with it ever since I can remember. If you read books by artists, they talk about this drive as some burden that only artist's bear, which I find to be incredibly snooty. I think we all have the drive, and it just get aimed in various directions. Some of us point it at art, some of us at food, some at relationships or specific people, some at sex or drugs or rock 'n' roll. Ultimately, I think it's the consequence of having been created in the image of God, which is perhaps more than we can bear now that sin has introduced depravity into the mix of all that glory. We are left with a gnawing emptiness to address. I think that true religion invites us into worshiping God in the midst of this emptiness; it doesn't eradicate (although it may sometimes alleviate) the thirst.
Rather, it gives hope for a future where all these things will find a fruitful resolve while maybe helping us into a present where we can love other people in a way that points to this good future.

In the meantime, I keep drawing and painting. I hope I can do so in a way that's not oppressive to the people around me, especially my husband and kids. And it would be nice if it was also mystically helpful to the journey of the people around me, by illustrating their true identities or their experiences or the Truth or something. But it always feels like a strange and difficult tension.

What do you think about all this? What has been your experience of it?

4 comments:

Rod Hugen said...

I've been thinking about this a lot. What does it take to crush that drive and what does it take to use it wisely. I identify with the thought of 'inflicting' the artistic expression on those you love. Every time I write a poem I wonder who in the world would care to read it and why should they. I get the same feeling when I cook and the result isn't exactly like the picture in my head when I imagined the meal. Yet I thoroughly enjoy the artistic expressions of others when they offer them. I love the musicians who offer those first tenuous songs, the painters who offer those first paintings, the writers who first read their writings.

Part of the drive is to be known, but being known is awkward and scary. I used to think it was all about ego and ego gratification, but I think it is simply and inborn passion to be known. When they ask people over 100 what they would do differently if they could live their lives over again the responses fall into the categories of risk more, laugh more, and build things that last beyond their lives. I think it is that last category where we touch the drive to create, to matter, to hope that we don't just live and then disappear without a trace. It is where God's lasting creativity becomes ours and where we touch immortality. We are not so egocentric that we believe we will be immortal, but that the great Next matters. If this is all there is it is pretty depressing. We squelch that creative drive when we fall into the trap of no longer striving to matter. How sweet it is that God says we matter to Him and what purpose that gives to my life. I can cook, or paint, or write or start churches because it is part of mattering and the creative drive allows me full expression of what makes me me. Keep creating. We'll tell you when to knock it off 'cause you are annoying. :)

Rod

Susan Cepin said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Rod.
I resonate with the idea of creating in order to be known. What else would "expression" be all about? My concern, then, about inflicting this process on my peeps is that I will be so obsessively involved in creative activity that I ignore them or only give them part of my attention. Thereby keeping myself from knowing and being known by those closest to me. Yuck!
I also have spent many years shackled by the fear of mortality. My early rounds of journaling were an attempt to fight this by at least leaving some record which might outlive me. I then spent some time not writing in order to break out of the fear, because I believe that fear is a lousy reason to do anything, and that my immortality is guaranteed by Jesus Christ, not by my own efforts of any kind. Not that I don't want to make an impact on the world and the people in it that will outlive me.
So I guess that's where I'm left right now. Wanting to create for the beauty of it, for the humanity of it, and for the reflection of God the creator that it is, but not for fear or self-preservation. Freedom, that's it! I want to be free to create and free to not "have to" create. Yeah. And I hope the same for all of you. Because it is a fun world to be free in.

Laelia said...

Wow! This post and the resulting comments are perfect material for an essay I am writing for my poetry class: exploring artists'/writers'/etc DRIVE or ENGINES. As in, I must write about and explore the reasons for and inspiration for creativity, and what it looks like in people's lives. So, with permission, I may quote you guys in my paper!?

Susan Cepin said...

Hee hee... sure! Glad to be of service. Let me know if you post the essay or any thoughts leading up to it on your wonderful blog, and I'll post a link!