"Revelations in the Wilderness"
-Outside the Desert Retreat House-
The other day I read a review of a recently released movie in which a critic referred to the director of the film as a "creative genius." I thought to myself "calling someone a creative genius is high praise." After all, someone who is a creative genius must possess enormous gifts and talents -powerful imagination, deep insight, an abundance of talent for self-expression. There are probably very few creative geniuses among us mere mortals who trudge through the task of ordinary life, managing to get through the dull routine of living every day.
But then, it suddenly struck me that "creative geniuses" aren't extraordinarily talented, unusually gifted individuals. In fact, every single one of us is a creative genius. I myself am a creative genius; yet, far too often the "genius" is like a sleeping giant that is often never allowed to wake up.
I am reminded of something I read a while back in a book of Buddhist essays:
Creativity often seems like an unusual gift that few people are born with or somehow manage to acquire, but creativity is accessible to everyone. It naturally arises from your basic nature when you are open to it. Creativity is something to be uncovered not something to be wished for. Creative possibilities are endless.
As I see it, every single one of us is "wired for transcendence." There is something inherent in our human condition that longs to go beyond our limitations, longs to be pulled out of our isolation into the great mystery of life. This longing for mystery, this propensity for transcendence is the "creative genius" that lies (often dormant) in us all.
Yesterday I came across this quote from Henry Ward Beecher (posted by a friend of mine on her Facebook page):
Every artist dips his brush in his own soul,
and paints his own nature into his pictures.
But, of course you don't have to be paint pictures to be an artist. Whenever we are in touch with our longing for something greater than ourselves; and then reach into our imagination to express those longings, we are "artists." Some may dip into their soul by painting pictures or writing poems, books or songs, others may plant flowers in a backyard garden or design new and innovative computer technologies - the possibilities for being an "artist" are endless.
A year ago when I first began taking photography classes, I remember asking my instructor what I should do to take good pictures. I half expected him to give me a list of techniques about how to use my new digital camera, perhaps he might also say that people who take the best pictures are natural-born talents with artistic gifts. Instead he simply said, "Have a curious" heart!" You are most creative when you are always open to the revelations of every moment. When your heart is curious, you will see something that catches your eye, then snap a photo."
When he told me this, I realized that my photography instructor had suddenly turned into my spiritual director.
It seems to me that the best way we all might wake up the sleeping giant of our "creative genius" is to "have a curious heart" - always open to the surprises and possibilities of every single moment in every single day. So much beauty is revealed in the everyday routine of ordinary life - it makes you want to paint a picture or maybe write a poem.