There is a Chinese proverb, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Those are wise words. They speak to the importance of being true to yourself. They emphasize the power of our decisions. The proverb challenges us to dig deep and find what you’re passionate about so you can pursue your life’s mission.
As artists we often know from an early age what motivates and inspires us. We’re aware that some form of creative expression is as important as the oxygen we breathe. We have found as we grow that our voices are important and we need to share our stories with others. I believe more importantly that creative energy makes us come alive. It infuses us with energy that we can share.
Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!” This is crucial because otherwise we live the life of a zombie. We move through the world with unmotivated, unintentional movements and actions. We hold back our true nature trying to fit in the mold of “the norm”. If we’re not true to ourselves how can we be of service to humanity?
It has taken me a long time to understand the immense power of creative expression. I always liked music. When I was in high school I thought I would become a music therapist. I chose another path, but still like to sing. I found my creative voice as a textile artist. Working with fabric, paint, beads, ribbons, etc. makes me feel like a kid. It provides endless opportunity, and it’s that energy I hope you find in your lives.
Creating art, whether textile or writing, impacts my body, mind, and spirit. It’s quite apparent how lack of artistic expression impacts my mood if I haven’t been in the studio for a while. The moment I walk in the studio and pick up a piece of fabric its as if my body relaxes and I can exhale. What makes you exhale?
Be yourself! Be alive! Be creative!
Years ago I read Michael Gelb’s book How to Think Like Leonard daVinci. Gelb gained access to daVinci’s notebooks and reduced his lifetime of work to seven principles. The first principle is Curiosite. I’m a very curious person. In addition, like daVinci I keep my random thoughts, findings, and explorations in notebooks. I’m always on the lookout for something new, intriguing, and inspiring.
Yesterday I saw an interview on The Katie Couric Show. She was interviewing the creators of a documentary titled Alive Inside. The movie focuses on those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the impact music has their lives. The creators beautifully demonstrate how when music is provided to Alzheimer’s patients we can tap into the recessed parts of the patient’s memory and experience. It reaches a part of their hearts and souls that allow them to feel connected to a life they and their families have lost.
One woman shared the story of her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age sixty-one. The woman retreated into a world that was lonely and disheartening. Her daughter shared that the most hurtful part of the disease was the patient’s inability to have meaning or ability to participate in the lives of her family and community. She was provided with a device loaded with her favorite music. Once she heard the music the family and the cameras captured the outer shell cracking and what emerged was an ecstatic, dancing, and alive woman. The woman was transformed and it provided the family with a way of connecting the person they had loved for many years. She was transformed. Music was the key that unlocked the prison that was keeping her captive.
These are the stories we need to tell and hear. The more we’re able to tap into the arts as a treatment modality, the more we’ll be able to reduce suffering and improve quality of life for many.
I love music. When I was in high school looking for colleges I wanted to be a music therapist. Back in the day, there were only six colleges in the country offering music therapy as an option. Today there are many music therapy programs and other expressive arts therapy programs showcasing the healing power of art.
Personally I use music as supplements, improving my life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I hear music I walk differently. I express myself more fully because I have an energy that reaffirms my life force. I like to sing and find it as exhilarating as some people find exercise; it’s just a different form of exercise.
What makes you feel “Alive Inside”? When you find that creative expression that makes you feel “alive inside” grab on and don’t let go. Practice that creative expression often! Give yourself the gift of being “alive inside”!
Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness? Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com