‘Inner’standing Leads to Understanding

November 7, 2022

Why do we pursue our creativity if it isn’t to be seen and known? There are times when I am creating that I dream of gallery shows and accolades, and imaginations of fame and recognition dance through my mind. I fantasise about that moment when the right person sees my work, and suddenly everyone knows my name. At times, I long to “be found”.

Unfortunately, alluring ideas of fame and recognition are a distraction. To create for approval and recognition is a cyanide-laced cocktail for our creativity. But knowing this isn’t enough to stop these dangerous whimsies of the mind. What we need is something richer and more meaningful to replace these grandiose daydreams of the limelight. Creativity needs a purpose worth more than accolades for it to remain healthy.

The process of creating- whether it is with paints, music notes, or spreadsheets- is deeply internal work. I often create because the option is to either bring to life that which is crawling through my mind or be driven mad by it. This drive gets me to show up to the work, but the rest of the process becomes an unwinding (and often wrestling) with my inner world. The process of creating is a surprisingly effective medium for us to develop ‘inner’standing. It is this ‘inner’standing that gives our work purpose beyond fame and the opinions of others.

Recently I was working on a painting. To overcome my crippling fear of a blank page, I try to get something on the canvas as quickly as possible, so I started by painting colourful, looping shapes all over the canvas. Once the canvas was filled with swooping colours, I started filling the shapes in with small patterns and details. As the painting began to develop, I saw a metaphor developing too. The bending shapes of colours looked like pathways, and within those pathways the detailed marks resembled smaller trails. It reminded me that even if we find a direction we are searching for, within that path are more footpaths, and within those footpaths are micro trails. 

Creating a painting became an opportunity for me to unearth “inner” standing. I realised that I was struggling to find clarity around a particular decision because I had been looking for a singular path forward. The process of creating gave me insight into my inner world that helped me to find understanding around decisions that needed to be made.

There is nothing wrong with fame or recognition. One of the reasons we create is because our creativity allows us to reimagine the world. If our ideas resonate with others, it becomes an opportunity to be instruments of change. However, a greater purpose or meaning behind our creating is for us to gain an “inner” standing of our internal world. This “inner” standing can then drive understanding and direction. 

If your creativity serves no other purpose but to enrich your understanding of yourself, that is reason enough to show up to the blank spaces of your life and begin to fill them with your creativity.

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