Roses and Thorns
ROSES AND THORNS- UNDERSTANDING THE FLIP SIDE OF THE CREATIVE LIFE
A friendly note:
• Creatives in relation to this discourse: any individual constantly required to use up a big portion of their pre-frontal lobe— the spot responsible for self- expression without self-scrutiny. In other words, your work demands a huge submersion into creativity.
• Just like the counter argument for the 'all lives matter' movement, it isn’t that a human who doesn’t dabble with creativity doesn’t suffer mental illness, it is that over the years a higher percentage of these ‘ sufferers turn out to be creatives.
There isn’t a proven fact that mental illness and creativity are genetically linked but there are simple underlinings as to why a creative person is rampantly prone or likely to suffer more.
But in understanding a problem, a win over it is almost always a landslide.
One night, in distraction, I was listening to a man speak of the creative life as one of stark crazy-madness. We can all, unfortunately, attest to this fact. He was nudging, in pain that was evident in his eyes, to simply talk yourself out of it: “If you could talk yourself out of it, if you could do anything else, just do.” Again, unfortunately, we know ourselves, the ones who have been betrothed with this gift can simply not let it out. We almost never have control over it; it pokes its head whenever it wishes. The ideas keep falling on our laps like an unexpected visitor. And so we never could quieten our minds to who we already are.
All my many years trying to put my head right in the molecular biology world, I observed through my lens only how to paint such organisms, in more appealing ways. I wrote my exams like a storyteller (for all my colleagues who thought I was an efiko because I asked for extra sheets, this is why).
Science, or more accurately, psychology has been gracious enough to reveal certain traits that are inherent to a creative person. So if you are plunging into learning it as a skill-- heads up! It is only fair to let you know what it is and why you are bound to suffer from its side effects. The beautiful side of it is that creativity is fulfilling, you are allowed to express wildly, and sometimes it is transcendental. Seeing a finished work of your mind dips you in this ephemeral pool of happiness. Creativity is the closest thing we have to magic. I mean take a look at Star Wars; the intense imagination employed to birth such world to life. The genius of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Tom and Jerry. The brilliant impact of Enid Blyton in my childhood.
As a kid, I referred to creativity as my super-power. How else do you explain the singular ability of a story to change you? Or the omnipotence of music to move you in diverse ways?
Creativity is a human trait, and with human nature comes many emotions; both dark and beautiful. Creativity is not a walk in the park of these emotions, it is being a landlord in its territory. We use these emotions to create— it is why you would sometimes observe art that oozes melancholy or, have a song that excites you. In a bid to find our voices, we constantly use these emotions to create. This leaves it near impossible to not encounter the darker side of emotions: fear, nervousness, anxiety, sadness, and other such of its kind.
For you a creative reading this, in truth, you are built with more codes of sensitivity because you have to be sensitive enough to perceive the world around you.
We have to be sensitive enough to process what we find— the beauty we try to show others in our creations; the chaos we seek to change in our anarchist art. We are the whores of the universe— all and many things must go in us to create. We have receptive pores larger than a needle's eye to receive messages (musings) transmitted from the universe. It is these messages we take in, refine, and transform to poetry, to music, to paintings.
I am a living attestation to the winds carrying strings of words to my ears, to hearing a melody while deep in slumber.
On the flip side, by implication, it is demanded that we feel too much. We are the empaths, the mediators, and we feel too much. So when that rejection comes in the mail, we feel it a little too much. When we bare our souls to the world, we are bashed with unkindness in the name of ‘harsh criticism’. We feel it when we give our best to our designs from lean concept briefs, and they want to pay us back with exposure. We feel it too much when there is so much promise in the music we make and we are shunned by a community interested in only one type of sound.
We feel all of it too much: the fear of starting out, the restriction in religion, the frustration of a blank .doc file we fail at conquering, the pressure to be always extraordinary, the insecurity of not being enough, the anxiety of the ever clawing questions (what if I never make a career of my passion? Will I ever gain recognition for my creation?), the anxiety of journeying a notoriously miserly path. We feel it a bit too much: every freakish and utterly daunting flip sides not listed above.
Because of constant worrying and pondering, because of constant encounter with these emotions we slowly sink in that quicksand of obsessiveness. This tells and reflects on our mental status. These tiny pieces culminate to one big depression, one big identity crisis, and one big emotional torture. Because our brains are involved in the good and bad, it slowly depreciates. It tells on our mood. It tells on our bodies. It reduces productivity. This ever mounting problems become so humungous, it convinces us that nothing can be done to escape our troubles. Sometimes, we weakened by such thoughts; we turn to the wrong things for solace, for temporary numbing of the pain. In further decline, the only way deemed as a permanent solution is to end it all; take one’s own live.
As did Sylvia Plath.
As did David Foster Wallace.
Reading the lives of Plath and others, they were suffering from illnesses that could be managed.
The torture can be erased. The perceptions can be changed. Our consolations can be constructive rather than destructive.
Creatives suffer a big deal. But you reading this, in awareness of all the many things you feel can pull through. In the famous paradoxical land of creativity, you surely can survive, through it all.
Second installment up shortly.