Fears can rise at the thought of being creative, but in one of life’s paradoxes, it is my experience that creativity is also a powerful tool with which to address those fears – emerging wiser and stronger.
Change happens, whether we’re conscious of it or not, and whether or not it’s happening in the direction we would like it to. The act of creation is a highly adaptive process, embodied in the very cells through evolutionary biology, and it is something we can use to make change more graceful and fun.
It was New Year’s Day, and I took myself for a walk, by which I mean I insisted that my under exercised being and its fidgety disruptiveness leave the house because it was getting under my feet. I was alone, and the moment I was in the fresh air thoughts took off and began to run and play in enough space and with enough distance between them that I could watch and observe with a smile, without incurring the usual scratches and bruises. My feet were well enough practised in following this path to do so without much input from me, and I let them take me down towards the river, occasionally stepping onto the rough verges to allow vehicles to pass.
By the time I climbed the style just before the bridge, to take the trail to the river beach, my thoughts were much better behaved, and my shoulders were unburdened enough to allow my arms to swing by my side as every other step became a half skip. And then I was there.
The empty stony beach (by which I mean there were no other people present) and the noisy rushing river, riding the rapids before turning the corner and beginning to widen and slow down. But me, I wasn’t widened yet. I was rushing.
Looking around to admire the beauty of my surroundings, I still held a feather I’d picked up at some point along the way. It dragged almost imperceptibly through the air as my arms swung, until I and they were still. I don’t remember at what point exactly I closed my eyes and began to question the changes I’d recently set loose, like the waters of the wild river before me – unstoppable, beautiful – but why? Why was I leaving behind a community that I loved, a landscape that I revered and a life blessed in uncountable ways? The first answer was immediate and came in a single word – growth.
A raging hunger rose in me quite unexpectedly, and I began to cry. Comfort had become a cage, and my wings had had to be cruelly clipped. I needed to explore the edges of my potential, not grow fat and lazy on a diet of endless affirmation and appreciation from those who already admired what I did, without daring me, stretching me, demanding of me that I be more. By more, I do not mean in the pursuit of a bigger ego or greater worldly success, but rather in deep celebration and honouring of the otherworldly; that which still existed beyond the world I currently inhabited but that, with courage and practice I could bring into this world that others might experience and enjoy it.
That dance of the practical and the magical began to live in me and, inspired by the feather still held in my hand, began to form a poem. I had nothing with which to catch it, so I began spinning a web mid-air by speaking it aloud, the river as my witness, repeating lines to strengthen them, and the proceeding onward. Gradually, while I began to retrace my steps and make my way back up the hill, the poem grew, line by line, adjustments and refinements happening naturally until I walked back though my front door, and wrote it down.
Change is so much less frightening when we understand why it’s happening, and admit that we’ve set it in motion ourselves. Poetry helps me give that clarity and courage form, and its aliveness is much like change itself, for I find poems, as indeed most art, leaves enough space for me to visit time and again, and yet inhabit a different world each time. That’s not necessarily comfortable, but it is comforting.
Whether faeries are real or not
I won’t risk killing one with
A disbelieving thought
For I have seen
Strewn at my feet
Feathers of my own wings
Shot from the sky
When doubt came hunting
But I am not a bird
And those wings
Were not of this world
Any more than a unicorn’s horn
Is hard and made of keratin
So it’s time for a re-feathering
Growing new shafts
From quill to tip
Fed with belief
’til once again