I’ve been wallowing in the pages of Etsy and Regretsy and contemplating the nature of creativity, while listening to the plummy tones of retired Bishop Richard Holloway talk about the differences between man and beast. http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2011/04/10/richard-holloway-1/
He’s worth a listen. I personally want to curl up in a windswept cottage on a shore somewhere and read all of his books. He is a Bishop who doubts his faith, who seeks kindness and acceptance over punishment, who understands Christianity extremely well and has questions still. He’s thought deeply about morality and how we can make us better. His latest book, “Between the Monster and the Saint”, is on my must read soon list. I am fighting the urge to download it electronically because I know I will want to hold it in my hand, reread sections, underline stuff, share it.
In amongst his musings about how evil seeps into human behaviour (he blames the market economy, which was an odd juxtaposition as I online shopped), he also has in him a source of joy and love for humanity and the creativity we have, the ability we have to see and be around the moral errors we commit. He wants us to fight to save the “dangerous freedoms” we have, and calls for bravery in going towards good. But he wants it to be fun.
He believes that play brings us as close as we can be to our best selves – that artists retain the childishness of play, lose the grimness of adulthood. We’re at our best when we play, he argues – and we should recover the ability to do this. We should re-look at children, and the happiness they bring, wallow in art and music and light and let ourselves feel that innocent joy.
I’ve learned about this in my adult life. When I was younger, I was afraid to play. I was afraid to try new things, in case I failed. I was afraid to be who I really was, for fear of censure or that I might shock others or bore them or have them think me foolish. When I hit my 40’s, suddenly it seemed like it didn’t really matter what people thought of me, that I was who I was, and people could choose to like me or not as they willed. I was going to be me, as I was, living fully, exploring my talents, my sins, my foibles, my glories. Well, it’s been fun, especially the foibles part, and much of what I’ve done is as insignificant as a paperclip. Yet…in amongst my inconsequentials, I think there have been some good things happening.
My ex asked me the other day how my writing was going. Truth be told, it’s slow, in amongst the moving thing and the kidney stone thing and all that. Instead, I’ve been concentrating on knitting. I told him this, and he stared at me like I had two heads. But then, he never plays, or rarely does. Work is all important. In my mind, though, the ability to complete my small knitting projects and gradually take on larger ones feeds my mind, teaches me a new skill, gives me a sense of accomplishment that is helping me out of a fairly dark place I am hanging about in at present. Each little badly knit dishcloth or scarf or glove fills me with a smile, a skip. And all of that is working me back to the tougher slog of writing, which is hard to initiate and end, but wicked fun in the middle.
And so I wander through Etsy and Regretsy and see the many many creative projects people have put together and I love them and seek to copy (some of) them. I can’t help but marvel at the combination of talents we bring to the table, we humans. Like Richard Holloway, I wish we’d spend more time knitting and creating and painting and singing than criticizing and warring and spending and hating.