Monday, December 1, 2014

Creative Entitlement And Responsibility


This quote popped up on my Facebook feed this morning.

"All the resources you will ever want or need are at your fingertips. All you have to do is identify what you want to do with it, and then practice the feeling-place of what it will feel like when that happens. There is nothing you cannot be or do or have. You are blessed beings; you have come forth into this physical environment to create. There is nothing holding you back, other than your own contradictory thought. And your emotion tells you you're doing that. Life is supposed to be fun—it is supposed to feel good! You are powerful creators and right on schedule. Savor more; fix less. Laugh more; cry less. Anticipate positively more; anticipate negatively less. Nothing is more important than that you feel good. Just practice that and watch what happens. There is great love here for you. We are complete."


I went to sleep as early as my grandmother last night and woke up at my birthday time (3:14), wide awake. The dog liked the idea of getting up, so rather than lie in bed, twirling my hair, I gathered the dog and the cat and headed down for early morning coffee, and maybe some guilt-free Facebonking.

I read the above quote, then saw something else posted on Elizabeth Gilbert's Facebook page, and it was like an epiphany this morning. She is talking about the idea of creative entitlement; that is, the idea that we are all entitled to the space of creativity. To wit:

"Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and believing that — merely by being here, merely by existing — you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own."

I have been thinking a lot about this lately, as my mercenary writing work picks up and I ignore Pantanjali's Sutras that I am supposed to be reading for yoga teacher training. Along with being entitled to creative space, voice, and vision, there is a responsibility (should you choose to accept it) to take advantage of it. I fall into the easy trap of distraction frequently. I use the excuse that it's all research and reading and that should be okay for a writer.

Except it's only okay when it is done to a purpose, not just following clickbait until you suddenly find yourself reading an article on the ten best places to retire in the mountains and you realize that two hours of fluff have gone by.

I write and talk and think a lot about the cult of busyness, how everyone says, when asked how they are doing, "I'm BUSY!" like it's a badge of honor to be so busy but it's kind of complaining also. But we have exactly the same number of hours in a day as Einstein or da Vinci or Curie. And it many ways, we have more time created by our modern conveniences. So when we say we are busy, we are really neglecting to utilize our time. I am not utilizing my time.

If the resources are right at my fingertips, and I am entitled to my creative space, then it is my responsibility to fill that creative space with creation.   Gilbert talks about why we shirk this responsibility so often, and it is spot-on for me this morning. She talks about David Whyte and "the arrogance of belonging":

"Without [the arrogance of belonging], you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety, and into the frontiers of the beautiful and the unexpected.

The arrogance of belonging is not about egotism or self-absorption. In a strange way, it’s exactly the opposite; it's a force that will actually take you OUT OF YOURSELF and allow you to engage more fully with the world. Because often what keeps you from living your most creative and adventurous and expressive life IS your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgment, your crushing sense of self-protection)."

This is psych 101: if you don't try you will never fail. If you don't step away from the computer or the other distraction, if you don't shut up the voice in your head and all of your fears, you will never escape the "suffocating insulation of personal safety" (this phrase bears repeating for me, and all of us who fall into the trap of routine. To quote Coehlo: "If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.").

After realizing that you are entitled to creative space, then it is time to show up and do the work. It is your responsibility to do so. It makes you a better person.

This is my meditation for today: I am entitled, I am responsible. What is your mantra?

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