A couple of days ago, I wrote a short poem with the title “I Want to Be Creative.” So many of us utter or think those words so often, but this poem is an exploration of what the sentence really means. It begins with what is often a useful operation—separating out what the words do not mean:
“Not to pile up yet another
trophy in paint or verse…”
The poem goes on to describe what it feels like to be creative. When I finished the piece, I felt I’d accomplished a kind of description of the indescribable, giving expression to a number of aspects of the state we call creativity. Thus, it gets at the reasons why people value this state.
A partial answer
A day or so after finishing the poem, I went back to it, feeling it hadn’t fully answered the question its title had implicitly posed. The piece celebrates positive emotional and spiritual states. But, I began to ask, what about these states is actually creative? What has been created in a work of art? Yes, there is the physical painting, or poem, or dance, or photo, or film. Clearly, however, the physical object is but a repository for emotional and spiritual expression and even values, such as truth or beauty, that we regard as transpersonal or universal.
I once penned a short verse that went:
“Poetry is the trail of discarded
wine bottles a drunken man
leaves behind as he
staggers toward the Sun.”
This poem speaks of experience, not words, as the essence of a poem. Yet often, as in the case of that very poem, the process of writing is the experience, drawing together or compressing many different life-lessons and adventures. Such synthesis is something new. This partially answers my question about what is actually being created in a work of art.
Tolkien and Brabazon
But there is more! J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, famously referred to all art as “sub-creation” because as a mystical Catholic, he believed God to be the only real Creator. Tolkien’s belief ties in with something written by the poet who has most influenced my own life and work, an Australian named Francis Brabazon [see Author’s Note]. For years, I have studied his artistic manifesto, called Art as Practice of Devotion.
In this one-page credo, Brabazon writes, “Representation does not mean in the likeness of an object, but in the likeness of the creativeness of the Creator.” Later in the same piece, he adds, “Creativeness cannot be two, as it is the one creativeness which made both the object and its representation.”
This may take some contemplation to fully understand, and perhaps the lines are best read in the context of the entire one-page manifesto. I’ve given it some thought, and here’s what I get: when we “create,” we leave ourselves and join God. We transcend the lower self. It is the true or higher Self that creates, and that is what people really mean when they say, “I want to be creative!” It is the relief from ego, the freedom of God, that an artist of any sort gets a taste of!
The mystery is solved
This realization solves all the mysteries that originally led to the writing of my poem of two days ago. We want to live in the divine state—the state where Truth and Beauty reveal themselves constantly and every life or object is an open book! Who wouldn’t?
A friend to whom I used to show my poems commented once, “Very good. And very good practice for the exalted states where these revelations will be your moment-to-moment awareness and will no longer be necessary to access by writing.” In truth, some realized Masters, such as Rumi, Hafiz and Kabir, do continue as poets. But they do so for the benefit of others, rather than for “personal” reasons.
All of us consciously or unconsciously yearn for the divine state. And creativity leads us there. As Meher Baba said, “Art, when inspired with love, leads to higher realms. Love art and that art will open for you the inner life.”
“I Want to Be Creative”
Not to pile up
yet another trophy
in verse or paint
but to live
open to the worlds
within and without
naked to all
the mysteries across
the provisional borders
To be creative
to be awake.
Author’s Note: Francis Brabazon lived from 1907 until 1984. He produced an epic poem titled “Stay With God,”and was possibly the first Western practitioner of the Ghazal form of poetry. He lived in India as a poet-disciple of Meher Baba from 1959 until 1969.
What do you think it means to be creative? Do you agree with the author, or have a totally different perspective to share? Let us know in the Comments section below.