By Eileen Kalinowski | Posted June 1, 2007 | Updated November 15, 2019
You've heard the old adage, "Misery Loves Company." Well, in the last few days, I've realized a truer thing: Creativity Loves Company. Something wonderful happens when people share their creative gifts with others who are learning to value their own.
When I was a child, it was all about who was the best singer in the class: everyone else could just lip-synch. Who could make a picture that most closely resembled the calendar's winter scene taped to the blackboard? Everyone else could just go ahead and color and try to stay inside the lines.
There was little appreciation in the world I came from for being on your own path, learning and expressing and sharing the best you could be in that stage of your process. It was all about who was the best. And that measuring and comparing, that critical judgmental ax was bad, not only for the ones who fell short, but also for the ones who got the prizes.
There is more that we need from each other than the slim chance of a first prize blue ribbon. What I'm discovering is the joy of keeping company with folks who are prizing their own creations, often for the first time. A new friend showed me a lap blanket she made for a friend back home. She is in her sixties and just learning how to knit. Proudly she took the soft lambswool in colors of mauve and smoky blue out of her bag and let me hold it in my own lap. She pointed out her errors and said, "I like to include a few mistakes in my projects," smiling at me the whole time.
In truth, it was a beautiful thing, and a gift I certainly would love to receive from a friend. It did not need to be perfect, not for her, the knitter, and not for her friend, the recipient of the gift.
We who are appreciating the newfound joys of creation, whether it is a new song, a new poem, a book we've been trying to put down on paper, as I have, for ten years, the story of my life, or a painting, whatever the project is, we are finding the joy is increased tenfold if we can share it.
Misery, as I now define it, was the self-imposed loneliness of an artist who couldn't call herself an artist because she wasn't good enough; a singer who wasn't getting enough gigs; a writer who wasn't getting a full-length book published; a person, in other words, too frightened to share what she had with the people around her.
Creativity requires a certain amount of solitude to get the work done. But I'm finding it also thrives on company, the eyes and ears of loving and non-critical witnesses of the courage it takes to take what is inside of you and bring it out into the light in some form that can be perceived by others.
My songwriters group is one of the places I give and get that kind of witness to the process. We inspire each other to go back and write yet another song. They do not fill my head with echoes of my own monkey mind telling me I should just hang it up and never write again.
Creativity loves company. It's a lie that all artists are loners. We need our solitude; but we also need to share what we're doing with people who understand and accept us, warts and all.
©2007 Eileen Kalinowski. All rights reserved.
Eileen Kalinowski sings, produces music, freelance writes, and is a member of the Taos Coalition to End Homelessness. ...
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