— Updated: Possibility & Relentless CreativityJune 17, 2014 at 5:49 am | Posted in Online Ministry | 3 Comments
I concluded several months ago that I was no longer a New UU; hence no reason to continue this blog. Plus, there’s the part about feeling as if I failed to attract enough enthusiasm for digital ministry to warrant a continued discussion – despite the fact that all warnings about Facebook have continued to be proven true. It’s free and more and more UUs employ it for some form of digital church and faith life.
Last time I’ll say this: Facebook is anything but alternative culture. The spaces we inhabit influence greatly our activities, our perceptions and our unconscious acts. Activity online directly impacts how we treat each other offline. It shapes our perceptions and expectations with everything and everyone we interact with offline. Meanwhile, the latest privacy transgressions that Facebook is planning confirm what I have said about Facebook timelines and other tools.
Now, I’m a new at dealing with another reality of UUism – I’ve joined the ranks of those who identify as UU but don’t go to church. I’m struggling to hold on to devotional practices that reinforce my beliefs. One of them requires constant effort to live in boundless possibility and relentless creativity, something I suspect may be difficult for many, including UUs despite our principles and beliefs.
I’ve coined this phrase “boundless possibility and relentless creativity” after reading the book, Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-Up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts For Actors, Performers, Writers and Artists of Every Kind, by Anna Deavere Smith. This book, plus The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster, by Michael D. Watkins, are the two best sources of advice I’ve come across in 30 years for starting any new adventure in my life that involves a system in which people collaborate.
I believe everyone has an artist in side of them. Artists personify creativity. I believe that life is the embodiment of creativity. An artist sensibility permeates everything we do if we let it. And herein lies the source of my practice of striving for boundless possibility and relentless creativity.
To paraphrase Maya Angelou: Creativity begets creativity exponentially. You can’t run out of it if you use it.
I tweeted about this a week ago. A follower’s comment challenged me to explain because I said that boundless possibility and relentless creativity protects personal boundaries. If you think about this, what I tweeted sounded like a contradiction.
It takes discipline, a well-developed sense of oneself; and a belief that authentic creativity happens – but not at the expense of others or oneself. It is the opposite of doing business; of power-plays in personal relationships; of manipulation. And it is the lack of manipulation that is misunderstood by many people because humans naturally gravitate and use manipulation in various forms to experience many aspects of life.
When personal boundaries are crossed, it means some form of manipulation or acquiescence is present or is a motivating factor. Boundlessness to me, is less about boundaries and more about the inexhaustible. It’s an adjective that emphasizes the potential of living daily out of a well-spring of possibility.
As Anna Deavere Smith writes, for some, the practice can be twisted into a violation of the boundaries of others and also ones own. She cites an example of agents taking advantage of the rights of performers, who as creative individuals, focus on their craft and not on whether they are being exploited by the business of art or entertainment. The responsibility to prevent and stop this kind of abuse lies with the artist, she writes. It’s about accountability for one’s own possibilities and creativity. I don’t like the motivational phrase, “dwell in possibility,” because it’s passive. What comes of dwelling in possibility? It’s not clear enough for me.
Deavere Smith also discusses the relationship between teachers and students. Teachers open doors and expose wide expanses of possibility to students. Good ministers inspire the same. In turn, students (and church members) may be so giddy by this gift, that they may interpret the rush of feelings as sexual attraction.
The great male masters of painting in our western culture reinforced this notion of muse or model as sexual object. And many contemporary female artist have turned the table on that in their work. But not everyone gets a hard on or lusts after painting a nude of the opposite or same sex. Great creative or intimate collaborations abound throughout history in all forms of art and relationships that sprang from attractions but that weren’t sexual.
I’m very lucky. Heather, my legally wedded spouse, gets it, and in her own way she too strives for the same. Working with her artist, designer colleagues means a great deal to her. They incorporate forms of play in their daily interactions. I admit, that once and a great while feelings of insecurity arise in me because of her zeal for creative play. Years ago, she went to extraordinary lengths to find enough rooster feathers and zany winged mementos to completely fill her colleague Andrew’s office with goose down. He had a thing for birdies. He opened his door, only to plunge into a gigantic comforter. He waded through to find all the chicken tchoch she bought.
At the time I was traveling constantly. I missed her. And for a sec I wondered whether her display was an indication of something other than good fun. It had been a while since we both conjured up goofy situations to make us giggle. The thought was a projection of my own insecurities. It was fleeting. Heather kept playing like that with Andrew and others on her team. She produced some of her best work with those colleagues.
Unfortunately, people come and go in our lives because they or others are suspect, jealous or envious of creative relationships. Individuals who aspire to live in boundless possibility adapt. It’s just a blip in the EKG of creativity and the journey continues.