I ended up speaking last night with my oldest friend (we’ve been friends since we were eight years old; our favourite game at that age was called Splat, and involved bouncing a tennis ball soaked in water and saying “splat” when it slapped wetly against the tarmac. She remembers it as being far more intricate and involved than I do). As well as being a wonderful friend – one of those friends with whom you can be out of contact for years, and then pick up where you’ve left off as though the hiatus never occurred – she is also a creative inspiration to me.
There’s nothing she can’t do, creatively, because she genuinely believes that she can learn anything. She will attempt anything. Creative experiments are not too frightening for her. She plunges into creative pursuits like a water-bird through reeds, completely at home, utterly competent.
Well, that’s how I see it, anyway. She’s one of the greatest inspirations – creatively, but also just in the person that she is – of my life.
Over the course of the conversation – one of those wonderful meandering conversations that wander from topic to topic the way only conversations between good friends can – of course we ended up talking about creativity. What we’re doing. The challenges and barriers we’re facing. How we’re overcoming them. What we want to do, and how we might get there. And I hung up the phone feeling like the person who hasn’t noticed the dimming of the room until the light is switched on. Like the person who has become so used to pain that she only notices it in its sudden absence. Like the person who is so distracted that she hasn’t noticed that she’s hungry until she’s taken her first inattentive mouthful of food.
And I realised that a huge part of my year of care – for the world, for others, and for myself – will be caring for my creativity. I have been do distracted – by things that fulfil me, but distracted nonetheless – that I have forgotten about caring for my creativity. For that reflection of the Creator within me. For that part of me that lives words, that dwells in narrative, that tells, in my own way, the story of the world in miniature. For that girl who stops what she’s doing to write down a nice chewy sentence, or thinks of the characters in her head as almost as real as she is. For that woman who makes the heat of a summer’s day into a poem, whose writer’s notebook is as precious to her as anything else she carries with her in her shoulder bag.
My creativity is important. I am the creation of the Creator, and I am designed to be creative. And I’ve lost touch with that, recently. What I have not nourished, is starting to wither.
So, year of care: suddenly, that little monosyllable gets another job to do. And this one, I now remember, is pretty important.