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"On creativity"

by Rosemary Smith (she/her)

I want to be creative. My friend says to me, “I am learning how to embody my creative energy. I know in my heart of hearts that I am creative, that I am creative by simply being.”

I do not understand what she means because the verb of creative is to create. How do I embody creativity if I am not creating something? I decide that I will be a writer so that I will write and call myself creative.

I often get caught up in thinking about myself. It is the truth of it even though I know there are other things to think about and that to define myself is to collapse my multiplicities. I am told that in a way I am everything, but I long to have boundaries. I want to be creative. I want to be a writer.

I want to be creative, and I want to be a writer, but I want to make sure I want it for me, not for others. I do not want to be creative so that other people can tell I am creative. If that were the case then I would never be free, and then how creative could I truly be? I often get caught up in thinking about other people’s perception of who I am. Sometimes I worry that I am not myself at all. Have I just become what people expect from me? I do not think the answer is yes, but it is not a resounding no. I decide that in order to make sure my creativity is not a performance for others I must remove myself from the stage, so I write in private. I want to be a writer, so I write, and I am one. I want to be a writer and when I write sometimes it sparks joy and sometimes it does not. For a while I get caught up in it, trying to create in this way so that I may be assured when I call myself creative.

One day I am in the back seat of a car coming back from swimming in a lake. The windows are down, and the driver puts on Selena and her voice matches the feeling of sun warming my skin perfectly. Everything about this moment – my friends in this car together – feels something sincere.

I am thinking of things to write about, and I begin writing about growing up Catholic. I was raised Catholic, but I do not describe myself as a Catholic kid. Sociology says that a lot of religion is caught up in something called collective effervescence, moments that are created when a group of people comes together. The world has a lot to offer, academic or otherwise, when it comes to definitions of a God, of this boundless higher energy. When I think through my own definition of God, I wonder if there is something to be said about people creating this energy together. I can feel it at on Christmas when I gather in the warmth of church while it snows outside. I can feel it when I shake hands and say “peace be with you” to strange yet kind faces. I know that my God has something to do with the smell of frankincense and flickering tea lights and Selena playing on a summer’s day.

One day I am talking with a friend, and she says, “I think I am creative, but I am not good at drawing.” I catch myself telling her that creativity can be a lot of things. “Your creativity is also the presence that you bring to a space.”

I say this before I even knew what was coming out of my mouth. A new thought said aloud, and I am set free by my own words. I am a writer, at times, but I am creative in my being always. In my secrecy I hoped to avoid being defined by others, but in pursuit of my own definition I had limited what it means to create. Caught up in the material production – how could I be so blind to myself? The way my laughter blends with others, the way that I notice myself in moments of quiet. In the way that I hold love. There is something holy about this world that I cannot name but I know it is caught up in me too. With this, I settle into my creativity.