This is how I realised I was a creative person

I think that it was Leonard Cohen who said that to write, was akin to exorcising demons.

I’ve always liked that idea.

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Last night, I spent the evening talking about creativity among a not small group of people at church. The church I go to is kind of different from other churches that I’ve been to. Actually, it’s a lot more like a community and a lot less like a church.

When I first started going, it annoyed me that no-one seemed to preach a sermon from the Bible (expository). I was used to that. But as I grew up a bit and learnt to think for myself, I realised, that knowing about stuff like that matters a lot less than I had previously thought. I like it a lot better this way.

My parents have always understood that I’m a creative person. They know how much I enjoy to create something from whatever is available to me. I love that about them. They’ve always encouraged me.

But I didn’t always feel like that about church.

I guess a lot of people can probably identify with that. In some Christian settings, identifying as a creative is a parallel experience to coming out: no one wants to hear it.

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I think, for me, creativity is like going into a dark cave. You feel around you, reaching for walls, seeing less and less until you’re not really able to see anything except a pin of light where the world was.

When you reach the kernel of that cave and the silence is deafening, you shout, say hello, scream — you make a noise.

That noise that you made, goes out into the world. Sometimes it echoes, sometimes it finds a ear, sometimes you are shouting into a void. A void knows no echo.

But the cave is you.

***

In the time that it was really only my parents and some friends who knew that I was a creative person, I still thought that I wanted to be a pastor. Honestly, it’s funny to look back on that time now. I am the complete opposite of all the things that a pastor needs to be.

But Jonah had his fish.

I guess I was scared of the dark. I think that maybe I had looked into the cave but I was standing at the mouth, shouting in. The more I stood at the entrance, the more I began to think about what might be in there. It felt a little like seasickness as I began to walk back there. You’re kicking and kicking but the water is getting really high.

And then.

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I also liked when David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech. And he told this great story about fish.

There are two fish swimming in a river. They meet this other fish. The one fish says to the two fishes:

— How’s the water today?

They kind of laugh nervously and smile before swimming off. And as they’re swimming off, one fish looks at the other and says:

— What the heck is water?

***

Then you’re not drowning anymore. You’re swimming. And you can breath. Better even. And it’s natural. And all is well.

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So. So that’s what creativity is, I think. And that’s how I realised I was a creative person and yes, to a certain extent, all people are creative because everyone knows how to shout in a cave. It’s the most natural thing in the world.

But not everyone is a cave-dweller, right? It’s scary in here, but then, there’s kindness in the night. There is stillness.