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Up Close

Creativity. It’s been one of my most challenging words. For reasons that I still only partially understand but no longer feel the need to fully uncover or disclose, I used to believe that I was not a creative being. I could easily admire it in others, but admit aloud that I was creative at something felt untrue. It remained untrue until I read a quote that really resonated with me. It was something about being creative did not mean you had to paint like Picasso nor write the next New York Times Bestseller. Rather, creativity was all in the process. Bingo! The fundamental truth I derived from that was that I was far too attached to and judgmental toward the final product. If it wasn’t masterful, the creative process didn’t count.

(unexpected long pause here as the emotional wave from that last sentence hits me)

If it wasn’t masterful, the creative process didn’t count.

Thievery. Look what I stole from myself! All those times I was creative - and I was - my harsh self-criticism stole the joy from me by saying it just wasn’t good enough in the end. Well, I am delighted to say that I have freed myself of those shackles. Working with a life coach, I was able to challenge my beliefs about creativity. I was able to write a list - a rather extensive one at that - of all the ways and I am and have been creative. It was one of the most joyous things I have ever done. I was excited about it because I believed it. Challenging our belief system can be one of the most difficult and rewarding things we can do for ourselves. My quest for creativity was not in doing things better, but by thinking and believing better. Once I believed it was in the process, I could no longer deny myself the joy of being creative.

All of that leads me to this. Up Close.

On a crisp fall day not too long ago, I set out to go for a walk on a beautiful trail near my home. With my camera. I don’t know how to do the fancy stuff. I don’t have a tripod. I don’t have a website where I sell my photography. But, damn! Do I ever enjoy taking pictures! There it is - the process!

I intuitively let loose, snapping shots of whatever caught my eye. I was having fun! But it wasn’t until I was sitting in a large open field that I truly connected with the process. The sun beaming down, the wilting effects of fall in full force, I took a few photos of the open landscape. No longer seeking that perfect nature shot, but still wanting to like what I saw on the digital screen, I was not satisfied with these photos. They didn’t seem to capture what I was feeling. I zoomed in on some nearby plants. That’s when I saw through the lens far more than I saw with my eyes alone.

Fading flowers that a month ago were full of life and colour, now subject to my creative process, became the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. For there in these photos was the beauty that exists when you look up close. A glance across this field, all similar muted colours blending together, nothing really stood out as particularly vibrant. But when I really looked up close, what was before me was utterly captivating. Each of these plants was pure beauty, sitting there, just being. Not needing to be a masterpiece. Not needing to grab someone’s attention. Just being. Just being was enough. It was up to me to find it - not up to them to make sure I did.

It made me ponder why that was evoking such emotion. Much like my creativity, I don’t have to be extraordinary. I just need to be present and involved in the process. There is a lot of beauty in that. I don’t have to work hard to get people’s attention. I don’t need to be anything more than someone in a field of ordinary people. It’s not up to me to convince onlookers that I am beautiful and worthy. If they walk away disappointed in what they saw, they missed it. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. For the beauty in that field of ordinary is nothing less than extraordinary.

There is goodness, beauty, greatness, and worth in all of us. If you are having a hard time finding it in someone, be sure to look up close. Most importantly, if you are having a hard time finding it in yourself, look even closer. You may need to zoom in, but I promise you it’s there.

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