Art and Soul: A Wellspring of Creativity

Last night at the dinner table, my partner was speaking about some French associates who had submitted their short movie to the Hawaii International Film Festival. With only 200 films chosen out of more than 1400 submissions, their film was not accepted, and my beloved was expounding upon the difficult process of having to reject projects—made all the more painful because of knowing how hard people have worked and the resources they have invested (time, emotional, financial, etc).

Despite being extremely busy (overwhelmed, actually) with the festival looming just around the corner, my partner sent this couple a personal note, thanking them for their submission and explaining a bit more about the selection process.

Hearing this story, and currently going through a similar process myself—attempting to gain an agent to promote my book—I found myself unexpectedly emotional. After a slough of anonymous, form letter rejections (or simply no response at all) to my book query, I had just that morning received a lovely, personalized note from an agent in New York. It was brief but from her words I could tell that she had read my entire query, and she seemed quite genuine in her encouragement. In the ongoing struggle to bring my book to the world—a process that has felt oddly invisible at times—her note meant a great deal to me. They say getting an agent is more difficult than getting a publisher… and I’m beginning to agree.

As an artist also offering a precious creation forth, I knew how much it would mean to this French duo (who met my partner in Cannes last spring) to receive the personal message, and I felt deeply grateful (happy, even) that my partner had sent a friendly, supportive note. Emotions welled up inside me… a mini-meltdown before dessert.

The simple encouragement of, “This is good, so keep going!” is, well, priceless.

fountain-penSome of us create simply because we have to. There is no other way. We don’t do it for money (though that is always nice when it manifests) but because our soul asks (demands?) it. We are propelled to create music, paint, string words together, sculpt, draw, or whatever else simply because it makes us whole… and because our very nature is creative.

The idea of ‘art’ is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. For eons, the expression of creativity has simply been a part of everyday life: in music, chant, song, dance, storytelling, myth, and creating objects of craftsmanship. And much of it has been to celebrate the interrelatedness of the everyday and the sacred. They are not separate. It is only in the recent, secular age of humanity that we have relegated the creative spirit to some quarter deemed non-essential. In many nature-based cultures, there is no word for ‘art’ or ‘soul’… because these cannot be separated from an individual’s existence.

In a world largely bereft of meaning, where the vast majority of people work at jobs that in no way nourish them in any creative manner, might there not be an important connection between these two elements that we have lost….creativity and meaning? Rather than a luxury (or waste of time), what if we regarded creativity as vital? For some of us it is… and I would boldly offer that we are also the ones who have discovered some shred (or a great deal) of meaning in our lives.

And yet that doesn’t mean that bringing our art to the world is an easy process. Far from it. Often it is a lonely and difficult road, strewn with struggles, doubt, criticism (both self and others), and challenges. What, then, could be more important than a kind, genuine word of encouragement?

Probably nothing.

One of the ideas that I offer in “Eros and the Sacred Masculine” is that soul is our creative essence, itself:

Soul is an underground river of creativity in our bodies. It is not a dream or a project we can think up with our minds but issues from something unfathomed, mysterious and elemental.

Every one of us is the creative energy of the Universe embodied. It is not a special, winning ticket that only ‘artists’ hold; we are all artists in our own way… or have the potential to be if we follow our soul’s guidance. I offer that for every individual, there is an aspect of the Deep Imagination that seeks a unique expression through us. Our job, risky as it seems, is to follow our curious allurements (even if we dismiss them as hobbies, flights of fancy, dreams, or anything else) and open to that flow of creative energy.

To embody and express the soul is to be in authentic, creative conversation with the Larger Story. As a dialogue, soul expression involves both deep listening and reciprocal, honest sharing through creative action: movement, sound and words, artistic expression, ceremony and ritual, communion with the ‘more-than-human’ world… all elements of the Deep Imagination.

With every breath, the deepest imagination and creativity arises from the song of the world and emerges through us. When we listen to, heed, and express this elemental dynamism, it strums somatic chords in the bodysoul as it spirals in harmony with our ‘life force’, each building the energy of the other. Deep imagination is our core energy made manifest. It is an aspect of our kundalini rising, a confluence of our creative, sexual and spiritual energies in one embodied flow. When we access and create from the Deep Imagination, there is a somatic sense of being in alignment, flow, or the current of something much larger.

I hold that each of us has a gift to bring to the world and discovering that treasure or talent is a key part of life. So, for any and all of you who are struggling to bring your unique vision forward into manifestation, I salute you. Keep on going. And may you repeatedly find yourselves in the unexpected arms of mysterious Grace.