“The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth-giver.”
-Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
When I (Megan) was younger, I lived in my imagination—in the world that could exist if I just dreamt it, and if I just went into the woods in my backyard and dug my hands into the stream. I carefully stepped across the wet rocks, climbed the bank as it shed dirt and rocks, almost pushing me down with the debris, and stood triumphant on the other side of the bank. I felt like I had crossed a raging river. My reward was the freedom to explore a new country with hidden treasures.
I painted, and wrote, and pretended, and never thought twice about it.
Then college happened, and I wrote plenty, but my words fell into stiff essays and rarely satisfied me. Everything I did, only occasionally creative, was judged, graded. There wasn’t time to decorate picture frames or make messes with the sewing machine.
Now, I write for a living, which I’m oh SO thankful for. But my work is still a series of assignments, and it is still judged (appropriately so). Outside of work, I watch other people create things while I reminisce about my “artsy” days.
I haven’t figured out exactly why the creativity stopped, and why I just painted my bedroom walls white and haven’t tried to make anything interesting out of the sticks in my backyard yet. But I think the art stopped because I got scared and self-conscious. I started defining worthwhile art as something that is seen and praised.
But it doesn’t have to be that. No one can really look at my painting, or my gangly knitting project, or my off-tune melodies and tell me that they shouldn’t have been brought into the world. If I felt the need to create it, I think that’s good enough.
I’m wondering how this new mindset will change the way I dress, decorate my room, doodle during meetings and dance in my bedroom (or in public). I hope it changes something, because a lot is being said in the world, but not all of it is honest. I wonder how many people are building houses that keep out the rain when they wish they were building sandcastles that melt into the ocean.
I look forward to revisiting that little stream behind my house. I hope the next time I see it I’ll have the urge to cross the raging waters and dance in freedom in the field beyond.