Creativity & Social Change (II)
I’m still trying to get my head around what it means to be a creative artist at this moment in time. Aside from the obvious, I mean – aside from the specific content of what we might write, what does the creative act do for the writer? For the world in which the writer lives?
There are two quotes I’d like to share with you, because they have meant a great deal to me as I try to come to terms with the “brave new world” in which we’re living.
The first is from my theologian friend, Ilia Delio, author of (among many other books) The Unbearable Wholeness of Being. Ilia writes:
“Love is the gravity of the soul, the force of attraction by which the soul evolves into the greater wholes of beauty, harmony, and order. If there is a movement toward wholeness in the universe, then it is first a movement toward wholeness of soul.”
Any time you sit down to write about an experience, you become more whole. Observation, memory, thought, emotion, the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious — in the cauldron of your imagination, these elements combine to create something new. You’re in a different state of awareness than before you wrote. You are more whole, closer to becoming who you aspire to be, as a writer and as a person. Your creative act exerts a gravitational influence on the world around you. Your creativity is love in action.
The second quote that helps me navigate these times of change is from the Jungian analyst James Hollis, who says:
“All we can know for sure is that a great mystery courses through us, seeking its own fullest incarnation and that whenever we serve the mystery within, we experience a linkage to the mystery without. When we stand in more conscious relationship to this mystery, we are more deeply alive.”
Hollis’ insight highlights an important and sometimes overlooked aspect of creativity – the reality of the process independent of the product. Whenever you sit down to write, you are giving voice to a mystery within yourself. Serving that mystery with your fidelity to its sometimes challenging demands aligns you with “the mystery without” – the world in all its complex sorrows and joys. When you write, you become more alive, and that aliveness cannot help but ripple out, impacting others in (ah, mysterious!) ways.
I urge you, then, whatever else you feel called to do, keep up your engagement with the “force of attraction” which language and imagination have exerted on you in the past. It will carry you – it will carry all of us – into a better future.