Creativity Out of Solitude
We are not here simply to exist. We are here in order to become. It is the essence of the creative process;
it is in the deeper nature of things.”
I learned early to welcome solitude, and from there came my creativity. I grew up nearly alone – well sort of. My siblings were much older and my parents had not expected me to come along. This set me up for being more independent than I might have been. I didn’t feel that I was a part of the group. True, there were lonely days. There were times when I wished my parents had been more involved in my activities. I never, questioned, however, that I was loved. There was an old fashioned taking care of business approach and I felt secure in our home. During those early years I learned how to entertain myself. My creative juices flowed and I was allowed the freedom to express myself.
One of my earliest memories was of Mother sewing. She had a Singer with the treadle pedal underneath. She made all mine and my sister’s clothes. Looking back now I realize how exceptional our wardrobes were. Later Mom got a super, duper sewing machine that embroidered and stitched borders of numerous sorts and patterns. I was nine years old when I began sewing doll clothes and then clothes of my own. I made puppets, using pears from our tree for the heads, and the bodies I made from scraps mom always had lying around. I directed plays with neighborhood children. I took stories and created scripts from them. Seeing that I was a true ham, Mother arranged for me to have expression lessons when I was five.
I realized in elementary school that I was not a part of the gang. I didn’t really care most of the time. Being in theatre, normally the star of the show, was enough for me. I could isolate and did, especially when I felt hurt or just sad. Out of this came the creative and artistic drive that remains at my core.
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We were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico about the time I was starting to write about using art to teach blind children. I went to the restroom in a tiny authentic, of course, Mexican restaurant. On the wall was a print of Frida Kahlo’s “Broken Column.” This was long before the 2002 movie, Frida, came out starring Salma Hayek. I had never heard of Frida. I told Sam when I returned to our table. “There was a strange, disturbing painting in the restroom.” The image in the painting haunted me.
Weeks later at my desk I Googled “art and the disabled.” There it was, the “Broken Column” on my computer monitor. I learned that Frida Kahlo had polio as a child and suffered serious lifelong injuries when as a teenager she was in a bus that collided with a streetcar. She sustained a broken back and was in pain most of her life.
It was during her suffering that she began to create art.
If you are in a valley take some time to acknowledge your creative gifts.
“One does not climb a great mountain by marching straight up to the top. Along the way, there are ascents to minor peaks, and descents into valleys. Sometimes storms trap climbers at their basecamp for long periods of time.”
-Gail C. Feldman, Ph.D.
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Values I learned when alone:
- To accept who I am
- To listen and observe people around me
- To try out ideas
- To exercise my imagination
- To cultivate and create beauty
- To be willing to take a risk