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Artwork by Shelley Klammer
Shelley Klammer : Creative Life Force

Creative Life Force

By Shelley Klammer

Powerfully Creative

We are moving! I have written a great deal about our large sprawling creative hideaway on the edge of the city that is over-run with ivy, blackberries and bears. As I turn 44 this month there is a call within to "hone it all down." This house that we are packing up has for the past 7 years housed all of our wide sprawling interests and has been a haven of creative exploration and inward looking.

Ondrea and I are packing up our huge creative inner life and getting ready to launch the wisdom we have gathered in this house into the more social and professional realms of the outer world. We are moving to a much smaller house that is more professional and inviting socially — albeit tiny. It is a house that does not invite us to hide in our private creative interests but instead will move us more powerfully out into the world.

Ondrea and I are on the road to getting our professional licensing and will be starting a therapy practice in the next year. The new house has a beautiful ground floor office with a small higher-end living space upstairs. It is a wine and cheese sort of house. One that I imagine connecting with people in and having deep conversations over simple platters of food, beautiful fresh flowers and some good hot tea.

Creative Clearing

"We have so vastly overcomplicated our lives that the homeward journey toward natural simplicity is torturous." — Gerald G. May

As I pack up my "creative interests" I realize how much time and energy I put into my creativity these past 7 years. What do I do with all of these creations — all these sketchbooks, journals, drawings and canvases? I felt somehow aghast rather than overly proud to see the various volumes and tomes unraveling the illusions, fears and hopes of my inner psyche in full detail.

I have been really looking at the myriad of motivations that impel me. To be fair to myself — as I look at the many boxes of journals in the middle of the room I feel the immense strength and fortitude of my own creative spirit to work through the many challenges of my life. On the other side — I see an intensely introverted emotional artist's sensitivity that has not extended much outwardly.

Exploring Intensity

I have been asking myself — why do we do all of the intense things we do? Perhaps you have noticed that sometimes you can be immersed in the most difficult of circumstances and still feel clear, coherent and deeply present. At such times there is no need to "do" anything but simply experience life fully as it is emerging. At other times life can feel absolutely ordinary with no outer difficulties and we can feel an inner pain that we want to find anything outside of ourselves to dissipate it.

As human beings we all struggle with our own tone of inner core pain. We can compensate for inner fears and intense feelings with many "virtuous" forms of doing that seem to be productive. Creativity can also be yet another form of virtuous doing. Yet from this place we can needlessly create too many things. We can try to force ourselves to feel better by doing and creating just to dissipate anxiety rather than coming from a place of true inspiration. An example of this can be the various forms of rigorous "daily creativity" which which can become just another form of excessive doing. Daily creativity is good for moving out of emotional inertia but taken too far it can also be a way of over-doing and thus retreating from simply feeling feelings.

A good thing to ask yourself is, "If I stopped this activity how would I feel?" Whether it is over-creating or over-exercising or over-working we have to ask ourselves what we are "getting" from these activities. I often, for example, see that when people who are forced to stop over-exercising — after an injury — fall into a deep depression or have difficulties with intense anger because they have been trying to manage difficult feelings though over-active doing.

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