As a creative person with a curious, questing mind, you are interested in so many things! You want to write that novel, weave a 3-D wall tapestry, and oh…illustrate a book for kids and the grownups who love them!
You want to spend a semester in Florence, studying Renaissance painting and sculpture; apprentice at the Paris atelier of your favorite designer; forage for wild mushrooms; make the world’s airiest beignets that dissolve like sweet mist in your mouth.
You want to write songs that thrill and inspire, get folks up and dancing to the drumbeat of your heart; explore lost wax casting; make exquisite jewelry; build a cob house. Learn a new language or three. Travel to the remotest regions of the high Altai, practice traditional archery with Mongolian shamans and indigenous elders.
You want to live simply on your family farm, raising children and animals and good food from the earth. A life lived in harmony with the seasons, with nature, with the rhythms of your body and the impulses of your soul as your guide.
You also want to: Join a scientific expedition in Antartica, researching climate change. Invent a viable alternative to the destructive machinery of capitalism. End global hunger. Bring about world peace.
Oh, the places you could go, the things you could do, the difference you could make, if only you had time, didn’t have to earn a living, were responsible only to yourself, your most potent desires, and your art!
You spend hours researching all the magical things you want to learn, explore, discover, create, do. Your dreams fizz with inspired ideas. You scribble these on bits of paper or on an app on your phone in the dark of 3 am. You scratch your head in confusion when you read what you’ve written, in the cold light of morning.
You brush your teeth, feed your kids, wash dog-poop off your front stoop (after you’ve stepped in it), change your shoes, race to work, to the dentist, the gym, the grocery store, your local garden center. In the waiting room at the dentist’s, you make notes for tomorrow’s 10 am meeting and try frantically to remember whatever-it-is you just know you’re forgetting to do.
By day’s end, you’re knackered; all you want is dinner, bath, silence, bed. The demands of here-and-now have swallowed you whole — along with your enthusiasm, your desire to create, and, on occasion, your will to live!
You haven’t actually turned your back on those splendid ideas, those radiant visions, but they remain in the someday-maybe recesses of your mind, alternately waving enticingly and dunking you in a scummy pond of guilt, aspiration and nostalgia for the days when you had all the time and energy in the world for acts of spontaneous creation.
So, what’s really going on, when the thing you want the most is the thing you make the least time and room for, in your life?
Making your art, learning or creating something new, exploring new ideas, new cultures, new ways of being in the world – these are acts that change you, and change the world around you. You won’t be the same person after you’ve learned how to speak Italian, traveled to Uzbekistan, published your book, built that community garden. Some of these creative adventures will transform you more profoundly than others, but all of them will change you in some way.
And change is scary, change is unpredictable. Change shifts the ground under your feet. You want guarantees that change won’t upend your life, or make it worse than it is, or happen faster, or be more than you’re ready to take on.
You want guarantees.
We are creatures of habit. Build the habit of inviting change into your everyday life. Vary your routine. Take the side road, or the highway, or walk instead of driving. Follow your impulses over that ridge, under that bridge, around that corner. Take singing lessons, or learn how to care for a horse. Have broth for breakfast, eggs for dinner. Sleep under the stars.
Embrace your life as a fresh new adventure each day.
Build the habit of creative play, of following your curiosity, into your day to day, and you’ll begin each new creative project with more clarity, delight and enthusiasm. You’ll complete each one with greater skill and confidence.
Confidence and courage are built through experience. Choose those experiences that stretch your capacity without breaking it. Start with small, relatively low-risk shifts and changes in your life, in your business, in how you do things, and with whom, and where and why. Venture a short distance from where you’re most comfortable. Discover what happens when you do.
As you build trust in your ability to try new things and make them work, or to take risks and learn from those that don’t work out the way you’d hoped as well as from those that blast past your wildest imaginings, you’ll limber up your why-not muscles. You’ll wake up your brilliant, strategic mind, your creative heart, your artist’s soul.
And you’ll become the You who embraces impossible dreams and pie-in-the-sky visions with joyful enthusiasm, knowing that you’ll figure out how to get from here to there even if you don’t yet know what the journey will look like, or what There looks like, or who you’ll be when you arrive.
Because arrival is just the beginning of another adventure.