Everyone’s a creative. Some folks latch onto the natural ability and run with it, while others tend to use it infrequently enough to miss its existence altogether. Whatever side of the spectrum you fall on, we all have the natural ability and the potential to create. Looking back, I recognize it in my entire life.
When I was a kid, I collected comic books and swiftly took to freehand drawing. I loved to sketch out superheroes in battle poses at first. Later, I took to drawing and coloring posters and murals for friends. But the “drawing phase” fizzled in my early to mid 20s; replaced by the need to story-tell.
I started writing in my first journal when I was 12 years old, and never looked back. Story-telling wouldn’t really take hold of my imagination for another 20 years, but by the time I was ready to do it, the effort came naturally because I’d basically been telling my own story since 12. I had always dreamed of someday writing a book and seeing it published. There was just something alluring about the prospect of holding something tangible you’d created, in between your own fingers.
Writing “Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies of Timothy” and seeing it published was nothing short of a dream come true for me. The success, or lack there of, didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What really mattered was that I had set out to create something and seen it through. I had essentially built something that would last longer than me. Dreams–when they come true–are simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying at the same time.
Marianne Williamson wrote, in her book, “A Return To Love: Reflections On The Principles Of ‘A Course In Miracles’” a timeless passage. She said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
When the dream becomes a reality, sometimes the excitement of watching that dream blossom is quickly overshadowed by the unknown of what might happen next; what it could mean for our lives; how it might affect others; or even if it will affect others. It’s the fear of the unknown, and sometimes that very fear keeps us from moving forward as the dream becomes reality.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve created art in one form or another, with little to no regard for the idea of it ever becoming even remotely successful. I think the goal was never the end result, so much as it was the journey toward the end-result. I love the process of seeing something come together. Sometimes, I toss a project out. Sometimes, I hold it in stasis for…ever. And then, there are the times when the journey goes straight through to completion. The art is finished, and is stored away until I pull it out of my little closet to enjoy it for myself.
For many years, that’s how I rolled. I created; I socked the creation away, never sharing it with the world. In my 30s, I learned to let go, and share. For the true creative, the art is extremely personal. The thought of some stranger grabbing hold of it and mishandling it is a real fear for us. But Marianne’s quote reminds us (creatives) that our God-given purpose is to shine for His glory through our created works. In order for that to happen, we’ve gotta share. We have to put the created work out there into the world, for all to see, touch, taste, hear, feel, etc.
In my mid-40s, my artistic pendulum swung again. This time, it swung wide in the direction of something that has been a part of me forever. My wife recently said something pretty profound to me. She said,
“Dear, you’re good at writing. But, music is what you were born to do. Writing is your hobby. Music has always been you’re passion. It’s who you are.”
I really can’t argue with that. Music’s always been my air. No matter what I’m doing, at even given moment, it has to be around me. It has to be my ambience. I live it and breathe it. When I learned to create it, the dreams began flowing like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The dreams feed the imagination, and the imagination manifests into the created work.
Like the book, a lot of times, I like to see the finished work and know that I’ve made something that will outlast me. After the book, my writing stalled. It was as if I’d lost the desire to keep writing. Maybe it’s just long term writer’s block. But with the music, every finished song only strengthens my resolve to keep moving the music forward; to keep sharing my sound with the world in hopes that it touches someone right when they need it.
The dreams–when they come true–put me in a position to think about what comes next. In 2021, a record label signed one of my songs. That song, quickly began gaining traction on the charts of the Soulful House Music genre. And that’s when the doubts simultaneously began rolling in. I’m afraid of what it could mean; afraid that the song’s steady climb is some sort of fluke; afraid of it all somehow backfiring; afraid of the lyrics losing their encouragement power. Afraid, of my light shining for others to see.
Then I remember Marianne’s quote, and I am reminded of God’s intent for us all. We are meant to shine, to inspire and encourage others. Our dreams-made-reality are supposed to tell others, it’s okay to go after what they really want; to put forth their best effort; to inspire others.
Dreams–when they come true–give us the “okay” to keep dreaming bigger and brighter. In doing so, we have no idea of where God might take us. But it’s not about the end of the road, is it? It’s about the journey and how that journey reaches others, while in motion.