So much is said about the things that fuel creativity – travel, stimulating situations, color, scintillating conversations, people, films, unique situations of contrast, even just a good night’s sleep. We who’s creativity thrives and continues to evolve, based upon the endless supply of stimuli we absorb, are often asked where our ideas spring from and how we keep them from drying up. Just how early in life did that ball begin to roll? Someone asked me recently how it was for me, growing up. What were my earliest triggers for my own artistic gene to begin to bud, grow and burst into blossom? What do I credit with igniting this wild and ruthless lifelong pursuit of making things? Is it a voluntary phenomenon or am I powerless against the force of it? What is my relationship with creativity?
Powerless is what I am, a weak and compliant servant in its behalf. I will never stop inventing whole paintings, assembling beads, found objects and discarded items into new things, combining exotic papers on canvas, sewing, gardening, writing, designing and re-designing the arrangement of things in my home, inventing my own recipes, etc etc etc – ad infinitum until the day I stop breathing. It is what I am about. I do it and I will always do it. I once had a husband who tried at various junctures to stifle this force in me, suppress it just a bit, deny it, doubt it, mold it to his liking and HIS whim – control it!! That effort was met with a DAVID-like force whenever it dared to rear its ridiculous little Goliath head. Creativity has kept prisoners confined for decades alive with hope as they scratch messages into solid granite. It has moved mountains and changed the earth with its ingenuity and imagination. Without it we as human beings are nothing.
If I cannot be creative, then just kill me now. It is my life’s work and my life’s play. It is in my genes. But it’s also in my heart and my soul…
It all began in a childhood home where I found wonder everywhere. Eight acres to roam, and no one caring if I was gone eight hours at a stretch exploring it. Trees to climb, creeks to wade in, hills to sled down, and places to build forts. An upstairs attic straight out of an Edgar Allan Poe story. A large barn with a hayloft and a playhouse out in the horse pasture, a bunch of pets and other transitory animals to care for, a very large house with nooks and crannies that was by all accounts authentically haunted were all the deep tap root that stimulated my young imagination. I remember every single detail of that home of mine, every paint color on every wall, every piece of furniture in each of its twenty-six rooms. It is all so clear and so dear to me in my memory. I can still recall specific dinners we had there, friends we entertained, my first taste of the new and exotic pizza pie on a snowy winter night after sledding all day, sitting around the massive living room fireplace. The home was more than a mere house. It really did have a soul.
To all that you add an endless supply of paper products coming my particular way from Grandpa’s furniture store – out of season wallpaper books, catalogues of artwork showing framed reproductions of old master paintings, scraps of fine fabrics saved for me by the ladies in the store basement who made custom drapes and bedspreads, and of course three levels of furniture in every style and personality. With an available supply of scissors, crayons, paint & brushes, glue – and I had no choice but to answer that calling.
I am fortunate to have been raised in such an atmosphere of possibility. But the point here is, I will suggest that if you are creative in the arts or any other avenue, your earliest home had a great deal to do with it. If being creative and inventive is a path you chose for your entire life, your home of those early years planted the seed. Whether your home was precious or poor or somewhere in between, something about that fine home and the people in it nurtured you and fed you smoothies of creative juice. And you thrived on it and ran with that initiative. It made you who you are.
Now that I am living in Denver again I am able to spend many of my weekends with a dear friend who lives in the mountains just 45 minutes from where I live. The house where I visit is very much like the house of my childhood – not in style but in the magic it adds to my days spent there. It meanders, it surprises at every turn, it enfolds and protects and it makes me smile with pleasure at the visual stimulation it affords me. It’s various collections of things; its books, its music, its rugs, its art and its artifacts that inform me about tribes and people in far off places are all comforting and inspirational to me. I feel young and adventurous on its extensive acreage. We explore, we collect old relics and the bleached bones of animals, we find caves, we climb. By the time I return home again my imagination is re-fueled and ignited into a flickering orange flame of high creativity that lasts me all week and beyond. My weekends spent there in the pines are like soul food to me and fire to my creativity, and those are gifts to cherish.
Whatever or wherever you might discover that lifts you up to new creative heights, feeds your artistic soul the rich fatty food of imagination, fills your fragile heart with wonder and delight, and sits you gently down again, each and every time, in a better place than before – well that is to be treasured. That would be called your homeplace, no matter whether you actually live there or not.