Freedom and Creativity
This past weekend I celebrated Passover with my family and, as such, have had the concept of freedom on my mind.
For those that don't know, Passover recounts the biblical story of Moses and his commanding the Pharaoh to release the Jewish slaves and "Let my people go". On the surface it's a fantastical tale of miracles, but underneath it begs the question: "What does it mean to be free?"
Furthermore, what does freedom have to do with our creative lives and how can our creativity help us find more of it?
Most of us are no longer literal slaves, being sold and bought and used against our will (though I fully acknowledge there are still pockets of this terror around the world), nor are most of us incarcerated and enduring the penal system. What about the bars we put on ourselves, though?
Think about it, when was the last time you felt you were on the inside looking out, longing and hungering for your version of freedom, whether it's to live somewhere else, do something else, have more time or relationships or success or abundance?
And when you feel like this, what happens to your sense of creativity, to your desire to express yourself?
We all go through times like this. It's part of the human experience. I've certainly had my own version any number of times. We long for more freedom, we come up with a number of reasons why we can't have it, we don't go after it for one reason or another, and we wind up feeling dejected, resigned, frustrated, stuck, and like a complete victim of our current situation.
But here's the thing.
We are only a victim if we choose to be.
Byron Katie, the inimitable spiritual teacher and author writes "Freedom isn't a destination; it's a state of mind."
The suffering we experience and enslavement we feel is most often of our own making.
So I ask:
Who is your personal Pharaoh? Is it your inner critic? Your fear of what people might say or think or do?
Is it your fear of failure or of what might happen if you actually achieve the freedom you long for? What thoughts and voices are keeping you hostage that need to be told "Let my people go!"?
What would you create if you could bust out of this metaphorical imprisonment?
Identify your prison warden. Give him/her a name. And then get creative.
For just as we feel more spontaneously creative when we feel more free, we can use our creativity to help us see the ties that bind us and cut them loose.
Draw a picture. Write a song. Put on music and dance. What does your slave-driver look like, sound like, move like? Get to know this shadow side of yourself as intimately as you can.
Now flip the script. Put her/him in bars and bust out.
Paint, write, sing, move. What does it feel like, look like, sound like to be on the other side, to experience freedom?
Let your creativity move through you and illuminate what holds you back and where you want to go, and may you experience greater freedom in your creative life and beyond.