I’m reading the book Why Fly? A Philosophy of Creativity by E. Paul Torrance. One of the first quotes that stood out to me was this:
“To be creative is to be unpredictable and the unpredictable always makes us uneasy. We like to be able to predict because we feel safer, more secure, more in control of things.”
How this plays out in our lives:
- (From ourselves) I want to create, but I can’t. I’m afraid. I need an income. I’m ashamed to admit what I do.
- (From others) You create? That’s great! Do you make any money from it?
- (From friends and family) I know you want to create, but can’t you do it on the side around a real job?
We’re wired for security. We’re wired to fit in and survive. But — we’re also wired to create.
“I believe there is little question that prolonged, enforced repression of a person’s creative needs may lead to actual breakdown of personality. Stifling the creative impulse cuts at the very roots of satisfaction in living and ultimately creates overwhelming, paralyzing tension. Our creativity is our most important weapon in coping with life’s daily stresses, its emergencies and crises.”
So then, how do we find a balance between (what seems on the surface at least) the conflicting drives between surviving in a physical or material sense and surviving in a psychological sense? Because, as he goes on to say:
“The creative does not work for status or power [or, I would add, financial gain]. He works in order to live with himself: the freedom to create is his greatest reward.”
There’s a have-to of creativity, a have-to.
It isn’t optional.