A friend of mine, Daisey Bingham, recently wrote a very funny blog post about something she likes to call the "Creative Compulsive Disorder". One of the many symptoms: "recurrent and persistent creative thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced and that must be written down, sketched out, or in the most severe cases brought to fruition to prevent marked anxiety or distress from occurring" (If you think you may be afflicted with this disorder, please check out her blog HERE)
Ever since reading this description, I've been thinking about the nature of creativity. Those of you who are creative have probably noticed that when one avenue of expression is closed or temporarily blocked, another one seems to magically open. Not performing? That box of water paints begins calling your name. Or you patch together a quilt, or write a lyric, or redesign your bathroom, or do a collage, or...
When I look around me, I can find many examples of artists who excel in multiple areas. The extremely talented Jacques Verzier is one of them - equally gifted as a performer, a caricaturist and costume designer.
The musician, Pedro de Alcantara, is also someone who is a personal inspiration to me. Pedro is a talented cellist and his recent concert is an exploration in improvisation and non-traditional uses of his instrument. Here is one of my favorite excerpts which he describes like this: "This is one of my recent compositions. To be more precise, it's an improvisation upon a set metric grid. "Pau Brasil" is the reddish wood that grows in Pernambuco State in the Brazilian Northeast. "Brasa" is Portuguese for "ember." It's this wood (which is used to make violin and cello bows) that gives the country its name!"
Pedro's youtube channel is called "integrated musician" and this is certainly an apt description, for I don't think I've ever met anyone more fully integrated in the creative flow of life. In addition to being an accomplished musician, he is also a teacher of the Alexander Technique and has written some definitive books for musicians on the subject. Surely that must take up all of his time, you think. Mais non! He has also written several children's books. Here's the teaser for one of them:
Did I mention that he gives master classes in writing? That he is a prolific blogger? That he has taught himself to draw? You can check out his evolution as a budding artist here with THE NAKED BEGINNER and as long as you're visiting his site, don't forget to take a look at his photo journals.
How does one person manage to explore so many different aspects of his creativity? Well, not having children probably helps. But I have a feeling that Pedro has made a concious decision to open himself to all aspects of creativity, to open the doors and see what happens.
Alexis Niki, the screenwriter and producer of the web series MY BITCHY WITCHY PARIS VACATION (among other activites) is also someone that I admire. She and Pedro are married and I like to think of them in their apartment or writing in their favorite café, tendrils of creativity growing and blossoming around them, branching off in unexpected directions, flowering and bursting into color.
Now obviously the path to creativity is not always a Garden of Eden blooming with life. There are times when it seems more like a desert with one scrawny cactus struggling to reach its little prickles to the sky. But as we all know, even a cactus can bear flowers! To quote from the musical "Candide" by Leonard Bernstein,
We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good We'll do the best we know. We'll build our house and chop our wood And make our garden grow... And make our garden grow.
I seem to be rambling a bit, but my point is this: Our job is to cultivate our gardens. So let's get going everyone! Follow your compulsions, open the door, grab a hoe and dig into that garden! Sow your seeds... who knows what might start blooming. Compulsively.