The Call to Create
As I sat at the lakeside listening to the waves stirred up by the refreshing breeze, stoic, snow-capped mountain peaks standing guard at the water’s edge, poetry practically punched me square in the jaw. This moment of peace and beauty needed to be quantified somehow. Some words, some picture, some art, so that when I wanted to forget and get caught up in the stresses and worries life always offers, I wouldn’t be able to.
I would remember.
A friend recently told me one of the things she adored most about travel was the addiction of looking back, of remembering. Because the reality of travel isn’t nearly as sweet as the filters our minds make in remembrance. I wonder then, what it takes to properly capture a moment? To drink in the fullness of these colors and find peace in the sounds of this rain and relish the genius of the jazz playing in front of us?
Each note part of a tune we’ll soon forget, but comprising an evening we will cherish into eternity.
This is a call to the poets. The photographers. The painters. The wordsmiths. The knitters. The metalworkers. The carpenters. The ship-in-bottle builders.
This is a call to enter into the passions and talents given us to capture this sweet world of ours in some tangible way so we might sip on her goodness in manageable and meaningful doses.
This is a call to what Erwin McManus deems the “Artisan Soul” in each of us.
And a call as Robin Williams speaks in Dead Poets’ Society: Poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
Capturing something true begins with being attentive to the truth. Art must connect us with our humanity. It must be real and raw. Good art will take us to the furthest reaches of our humanity.
Our first week out of our home country and my wife and I were nestled on a hillside at a Buddhist retreat center in New Zealand. Replete with gardens and nature walks and rooms devoted entirely to meditation. Central to the philosophy they lived by was mindfulness of the moment. Unless we can be here, now, we will live our lives somewhere else and realize we hardly lived at all.
Even if you’re not on a peaceful hillside or soaking in a picturesque lakeside portrait, there is art here waiting to be captured. Travel will bring you to a thousand unexpected reservoirs of wisdom and beauty if we will learn to be still and notice. They may look like grungy subway stations packed to the brim with strangers, but something important, something holy hums soft enough for you to make out the tune.
If you listen.
Mindfulness centers us on the reality of this moment. Once we’re there, we just might have something good to contribute.
And good just might have something to contribute to us.
Once we’re attentive to the moment, we can begin to rid ourselves of the voices which say we have nothing good to give. Because you are not inadequate. You were not meant to remain silent. You have the authority to contribute a verse.
Through music or craft or dance or language or performance or graffiti, you have a way to express the deepest aspects of your being alive. More likely than not, your artistic gifts will grow from a seed of love. Your contributions will not often be forced or taxing because they are inherently enjoyable to you.
Run with that.
You owe it to yourself and us to figure out what makes you come alive and do it. Lots of it. Make investments into your passion and never stop exploring all the rabbit holes it takes you down.
Traveling with camera or easel or typewriter or ukulele can inspire a whole new realm of growth in the garden of your giftedness, so be bold in going forth. Too much is at stake if you don’t. Too much stands to be lost if you allow the ridicule or reasoning or retribution of others to keep you in a safe and secure life where you’re only half of whole.
We are each of us gifted. We are each of us called to contribute. We are each of us asked to share our gift with the world.
In traveling, the opportunity is afforded us to encounter a unique world in a unique way. Without denying the whole landscape of mishaps and missed buses, little sleep and shady streets, unforeseen expenses and our bodies’ aversion to the street food, travel invites the poet inside us to wake from her slumber. Our perspective is valuable and able to transform more than just ourselves.
This is not a time to be shy. Not that you must post your diary all over the internet, but find ways to create where you can freely and proudly share. For me, two things immediately come to mind. Writing and painting. I greatly enjoy both. In both, I look for ways to take my experiences and transform them into a small vessel of genuine connection that will bless someone else.
That will give hope to someone who has almost lost it.
That will shine beauty when someone else can see nothing but ugliness.
That will stand solidly by someone who needs an understanding presence.
Whether we immediately recognize any given moment as significant or not should not rob the insight of our creativity from sharing the truth as we experience it. The call is for us to create and leave the significance up to those who participate in what we offer.
When we do, when we are mindful and tapped into our gifting and generous with our offerings, our daily lives in whatever country can be transformed into a harmony of the divine symphony whose chords resonate throughout history. The minor falls and major lifts are in tune with the heartbeat of all creation who seek their place in the powerful play so that they may contribute a verse.
Once we find it. Once we’re there and in tune. Once our verse is left ringing in the ears of our fellow sojourners, the lakeside and the mountains and the gardens will inadequately try and capture us.