What will you create?
Ask yourself: what do you need and what don’t you need right now? You will emerge from this pandemic as a different person. Rather than reverting to what was your life before, we have this moment to create something new for ourselves. Humans have been relentlessly creating and exploring the unknown for themselves for as long as we have studied humankind.
My son Erik Benjamins, an artist, copy writer and creator, helps me see what it means to create something new. As an unbiased and incredibly proud parent, he models inventive, original and courageous thinking and doing.
He recently shared a story about Peter Sellars, a professor at UCLA’s Department of World Arts. This award winning and distinguished professor has been teaching, directing, creating opera, theater and art since the 80s. For Peter, art is about healing, which is particularly why it is a huge focus for him and other artists right now. His students claim that he has taught them such valuable life lessons and has shaped their perspectives with profound impact.
What students create
These days, we all get a chance to create. This is part of our own healing process. Students show us what creative thinking can look like. They inspire me. I recently spoke with a group of Cal State University Long Beach students via zoom and we talked about the current career landscape and post-COVID strategies for them.
We talked about exploring what gives them joy and how they would describe their greatest gift. Not one of our conversations was about money although it probably was on their mind in some way or another. We talked about how to engage in new conversations, build self-confidence, and get to know themselves in a deeper way so they can tell their story. Following this event, several students reached out to speak with me about their self-discovery journey and going forward ideas during this tough time. Although dismayed about internships and opportunities being placed on hold, they were curious and committed to try new things. I could see their creative minds at work. They realize that the introspection is a new exercise for them yet many were eager to give that their time and energy.
Where else is creativity?
Creativity is also seen in our new advancing professionals learning group that Tammy Sicard and I launched in February with eight amazing young talents. As we all continue to navigate working from home, they have quickly adapted to new ways of working and connecting with their bosses and colleagues. They are serious about work and learning and they express gratefulness for their roles and relationships.
This group has shared how to integrate a creative practice into their life. Work is intense and includes long days, yet creative efforts are clearly embraced. It is seen in their work efforts, unique use of technology tools and project collaboration as well as their personal life. They also embrace journaling, to fitness, embroidery, baking, being with family or making music. This generation gives me hope for they “get it” and they are comfortable with taking care of themselves in order to have a healthy mind, while supporting others and getting results. Powerful art forms are being developed in this group at work and at home. They show us that this is not an either or proposition, it is a both/and happening in positive ways.
The new job description that Peter Sellars talks about is the one that has “making art” at the top of the list. Now I can see why.
As a business person, I see my friends, clients and young colleagues sharing their art – whether it is learning something new online, starting forums for discussion, or a Friday night zoom call to say hello to check in. All of this will change our sense of who we are and how we show up in this world with compassion. Conversations will change and what we may not have noticed before will be observed and potentially shift our behaviors and our words.
Are you clearing the space to take care of you? Does your own creative work open up conversations that you had not imagined having before?
Live in this place as you were meant to, and then, surprised by your abilities, become the ancestor of it all, the quiet, robust and blessed Saint that your future happiness will always remember. - David Whyte excerpt from COLEMAN’S BED in RIVER FLOW and ESSENTIALS ©2006 Many Rivers Press