Escapism and the importance of creativity

Creativity is critical to contentment. It makes sense when you think about it. This world is a thing of beauty, designed by the ultimate Creator. It is inspiring by its very nature.*

The joy of creativity is that it offers us an escape from the rubbish of this world by transporting us temporarily to another reality. Really good creativity returns us to our lives with either renewed resolve or at least a clearer perspective. A good book, film, piece of music or art all have the power to reach a part of us that is untouchable by the rest of the world.

I find my escapism in movies – it’s why I’m so interested in film production and why, when I was younger (and still today), I used to sit in the cinema and wait until all the credits had rolled before leaving; I wanted to see the names of the people who had created this story that had pulled me in and made me ponder life.

My husband’s creative outlet is writing and he’s outrageously good at it. When I read his words, I am transported to Cairo, to France, to a time when life was different; not necessarily better or worse, just different. As well as entering into another world, there are phrases hidden throughout his work that capture elements of life beautifully. Through artistic prose, he explains what usually cannot be articulated.

This realisation of the importance of creativity has been quite ground-breaking for me. As Elspeth Thompson writes in The Wonderful Weekend Book: “We neglect our creativity at our peril.” Whatever our medium, we are all creative – be it in an acknowledged art form or simply in the way we find solutions to problems and use our initiative. If we suffocate this instinct in ourselves, it can have quite grave consequences. I’d go as far as to say that neglecting our creativity can be one of many triggers of illnesses such as depression. When we’re forced to conform to a rhythm of 9-5, sat at a desk in an office, many of us are moulding ourselves into something we were not born to be.

It’s no wonder then, that when my previous jobs have narrowed the scope for me to use my creativity, I have very quickly grown bored, stifled and moved on. When I’m not allowed to use my brain, to find a way to practice my creativity, my inner calm becomes agitated and I look for ways to rediscover that balance.

I’m thankful that my husband realised all of this long ago and has been pursuing ways to use his creativity. He has rejected the contemporary lifestyle of 9-5 in favour of living a life that far closer resembles one that is lived to its fullest. He is embracing his God-given gifts and creative instinct and he has made himself and our marriage more joyous in the process.

*pun completely intended
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August – Gaining perspective

P1030479 (1)August gave this introvert a wonderful gift – time. We had time away from work, away from the small frustrations that build in everyday life and away from the distractions that cloud our perspective. We had time with family, with friends and with each other. That time reminded me how much I need to escape on a regular basis, it rekindled in me a desire to prioritise and balance flexibility, people and quiet time, it challenged me to focus on rebuilding my patience, it refocused my perspective and it refreshed me to pursue the things that I realised were still important to me.

Perspective is a curious beast. It is so easy to distort and takes conscious effort to regain. It demands distance from a situation in order that it can clear its vision and re-evaluate. Thankfully, that is just what this month allowed me to do. The smaller frustrations that begin to consume daily life seem trivial when set against a broader view and you begin to wonder whether you’ve really forgotten how to let inconsequential matters slide off your back. The stubbornness in my nature is quick to focus on trivial details that I needlessly grant permission to require all of my attention. I reward such matters with a status of importance, which in turn allows anger and impatience to rise within me. Away from the familiarity of routine, it seems absurd that I gave such small things such great value and bizarre that those areas were where I willingly chose to place my energy. Gaining perspective and rebalancing energy is a huge blessing when small things have become such unnecessary burdens.

Needless to say, we had a great time on holiday. We had a few days of glorious sunshine and curled up indoors when the mist closed in. We spent a weekend with good friends and their little one year old and I got to pamper both my friend and myself which was a real treat. We celebrated me turning another year older, saw an impressive airshow and throughout the month I got to spend some one on one time with my Daddy, my sister and some of my best friends, over breakfast, shopping, cinema and bowling.

All in all, August was just what my soul needed and for that I’m really very thankful.

April – Keeping Pace with Time

P1020100aApril was hectic. It was chaotic, fast-moving, capricious – there are any number of words that could describe the speed and unpredictability of this month.

It started calm enough. The Hawaii Wedding Part 2 was lovely and we got to spend the long Easter weekend with my in-laws. Thinking about it as I write, I notice that Easter didn’t even make it into my painting. Many are surprised that, as Christians, we don’t really observe Easter. Instead, we had a Passover meal with my in-laws – it helps me to remember and be thankful more than chocolate eggs.

Then the new role really picked up and all of a sudden my work days grew longer, squeezing my evenings and resulting in very little time to recharge. Communication has become all consuming for me these past few weeks as my role has soared at a slightly unexpected rate.

In the in-between moments we celebrated our anniversary, visiting Rudyard Kipling’s house and Churchill’s house and generally having a very lovely weekend away just the two of us. Our lodger moved out after almost a year and quiet filled our flat once more. I’ll admit, it didn’t take all that long to adjust and I’m grateful to have both the physical and the mental space back again.

And then Nepal happened. A significant part of my job is disaster response so the past few days have been a haze of appeals, updates, information and urgency. I felt so blessed that I could walk into work on Monday and not have to leave behind or ignore the horrors I’d seen over the weekend but instead could do something to help. It puts a lot into perspective. I don’t think it’s right that we should feel guilty that it wasn’t us. I don’t think it’s right that we should put our lives on hold. I think we should absolutely pray, give financially and do everything we can to raise awareness of the disaster that has befallen the people of that nation. But I don’t think we’re called to stop our lives or stop experiencing joy in the good things we are blessed with because if we stop being joyful, what hope do we have to encourage and lift up those who are in despair?

We signed for our kitchen this week. In two months or so, the two year saga of our leaking roof will finally come to an end. I’m already planning what to bake, who to have round for dinner and how I can use our lovely new kitchen to make people feel at home in our home. I’m so excited. I was genuinely jumping.

And then of course we have British Summer Time. The evenings stretch out longer so that I don’t quite realise when time has run away with me until my eyelids droop and my energy dips. Those extra hours of light bring great promise. They beckon a season of extended time with friends when, hopefully, I will be able to sit back and relish that time again, rather than simply keep pace with it.

Never stop looking for what’s not there

The last few weeks and months have changed me a lot. When I look back on my personality just a few years ago, I see such a stark contrast to who I am today that it quite amazes me. Most of the changes are good, some are neither good nor bad, simply different. I am very aware that I am in a time of learning, trusting, watching, listening, waiting and hoping. That combination brings my introversion to the fore and leaves no option other than to introduce space for flexibility in order to make the most of this time of change because however hard you try, life doesn’t keep to deadlines.

I find it so easy to forget the things I learn so I’m indulging myself by recording a few things that I would love to have known a few years ago.

  • Take life at its own pace, don’t force it to conform to your timings. A life lived according to the schedule of the world will only ever be rushed, unfulfilling and unappreciated. Flexibility gives you permission to enjoy life in the moment without concerning yourself with the paths of others.
  • If the milk runs out, buy some more. Tomorrow will have bigger things to worry about than whether your planned amount of groceries lasts out the week. 
  • Take one day at a time, life can change in an instant.
  • Just aim to be the best you that you can be. No envy, no competition, just you. You will be loved for it.
  • Love with all your heart. Whether or not you are loved in return, to love another makes life worth living and serving friends and family is such a source of joy. The time will come when another person’s love for you will be your strength so in the highs, be their strength. Lean on them. Put pride aside and enjoy all that love truly means.
  • “Never stop looking for what’s not there.” This fantastic quote from the film ‘Once More’ starring Morgan Freeman is so insightful. Dream. Think big. Hope. See light in the darkness. It doesn’t have to be in front of you; it may be years away, it may be tomorrow but never stop looking for it. 

I’m still learning. I hope I always will. For me, this season is so full of new insights into life that I want to capture what I can, if only to read it again in a few years and remind myself that the world is so much bigger than I give it credit for.