"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." --Kurt Vonnegut, American writer
This past year has given most of us some ample reason and often time in isolation to reassess our lives and even re-prioritize. The pandemic has caused us to come face to face with our own mortality, and we are reminded of it every time we dutifully don our masks to protect all the lives depending on our careful diligence. It is all pretty heavy to think of on a daily basis, and it can wear down even the cheeriest of dispositions. How can we bring levity and light into our lives when we get weary battling the darkness? By asking our inner- child to take us by the hand and lead us to the path.
Got Inspiration? Get bored. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Ellen Parr
As strange as this might sound, boredom is the engine that can drive you to discover your own creativity; the only problem is that we are actually never really bored in the mega massive digital tech world that the events of 2020 have turned our lives into. According to research published years before the pandemic, “there are five levels of boredom: indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant, and apathetic.”
Unfortunately, when we have endless amounts of mind-numbing options available 24/7, it can lead us to the point of apathetic boredom. Don’t believe me? Have spent half the night endlessly scrolling through Netflix, from one title to the next, looking for something to watch, until finally settling on something only to find yourself bored 15 minutes into the program? What we truly need instead is to get so bored that we are searching for innovative methods of entertainment– literally being creative.
Technology-Free Days are Key and Vital to our Creativity
This might sound radical to some, but I think it needs to be said: we need time away from technology to allow our souls to grow, to be nourished instead of depleted, and to be stimulated from within. In order to find out what could inspire us, we might need to plan out our technology-free days carefully. If possible, plan a day when you can be free from all technology- from the moment you wake up until the moment you hit your pillow. If this seems impossible, then you might be exactly the kind of person who could benefit from this practice, so see if you can make the sacrifice.
If the weather permits, spend a few hours outside. Take a walk to a café if there is outdoor seating and see what happens if you just sit there and let your mind develop? Do thoughts and feelings manifest out of thin air? When we were children, we would act on these moments of innocent passion.
Since this is a column about the pursuit of knowledge and the divine, I want to specifically narrow down creative endeavors that we do to purely bring us pleasure and excitement. So, for now, I’m not talking about taking on something that is any way career-related, and neither am I speaking of learning some new life organization skill to feel productive or that self-help book that you’ve been meaning to read. I’m talking about fun- the kind of fun that could awaken and delight your inner child, or maybe even take ideas from your own childhood experiences.
Healing through our Bond with Animals
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” –Anatole France
Do you know what makes your soul applaud in joy? I recently saw the film, “My Octopus Teacher” on Netflix, and it had a profound effect on me because it was the story of a man who found meaning in his life through the creative outlet of getting to know the ocean by his home, as he had done as a child. It's quite difficult to describe the movie to people who might not have relationships with animals, but if you do have a pet or have an affinity towards animals, then the relationship portrayed in this film between this human with an animal as unassuming as an octopus could literally make you see your dog, cat or horse in a completely new light: one that is filled with visceral innocence, wonder, and new knowing.
We might have had a specific type of animal that fascinated us, such as reptiles. Or, it might be a memory, like riding a horse for the first time. If possible, try to see if local aquariums are open as this childhood activity still ranks high on many adults’ inner child wishes. If it’s not possible to go inside yet in your community, this could be an excellent opportunity to take your children (or someone else’s) on a trip to see a tide pool or the ecosystem or a lake or river- witnessing the curios and reactionary nature of children is an easy way to connect with your own inner child.
Art as Refuge
“Everything you can imagine is real.” –Pablo Picasso
As a child, maybe you loved to doodle and make silly little cartoon images. I loved drawing the solar system and the night sky as a child, and as an adult, I shared stargazing with others. One of the beautiful things about having a lot of downtime to spend with alone is the opportunity to have insight into who you really are deep down inside by discovering what really makes you happy.
Art has no limitations, so whether it’s music or visual or performing, I encourage you to spend a whole day surrounding yourself with the art materials for several types of art projects: magazines, paints, a canvas and pottery clay are some examples of good things to start with. Of course, technology is also our friend when we want to discover new things that we can do. Maybe you love music and want to make special playlists on Spotify to gift friends for Christmas. Do you love to cook? Have you ever done it just for the pleasure of cooking and not just to eat it right away? Plan a day with a partner or a friend making exciting foods, baking an elaborate cake or even just trying to make a new type of cuisine.
By: Jyoti Paintel