Creatively Persist

Birthing Creative Will

By Shelley Klammer | Posted 8/4/10 | Updated 11/16/23

PersistI did this drawing several years ago and I thought it was about anger but some of my readers thought this drawing displayed a beautiful strength of will.

I must say I would now agree. This drawing very much illustrates how I feel these days. It is as though I have a fiery strong creative will birthing in my being.

"The truth of the matter is many of us are not very strong. We are often timid, fearful and apprehensive — quivering in the shadow of life's pressures, or cowering before those who abuse us. Because of our psychological weakness, we are unable to cope with life's circumstances, which prevents us from moving forward and finding our true potential. As a result we become world weary and fatalistic believing we are helpless victims of an existence that is determined to crush us." —Roy Posner

The Creativity of The Light and the Dark

I feel very connected and trusting these days to the creative interplay of dark and light energies and the enormity of how we all have everything inside of us. We are all part of the grand interplay of light and dark. Anything that is left unaccepted inside will be experienced "out there" in the world.

This summer I have been reading an excellent book on creativity by Peter Clothier called Persist. He writes about "the survival of the creative spirit that rewards only a lucky few." I am quite lucky in that my "day job" is quite creative. Yet for the past few years I have been dealing with an intense workplace bully who judged and criticized my work on a regular basis.

In the past I would have just quit at the slightest provocation, but my work has felt meaningful to me on many levels. I work in one of the few fully equipped and government funded art studios for the elderly in Canada. My work environment is bright and visually beautiful. As much as I dislike the rigors of a unionized hospital environment, it is one of the good places in the world.

When I first started coming up against the criticism I felt defensive, angry and victimized and I could not see myself in the interaction. At first the criticism all seemed so unfair and wrong. But something else was at play. There was something infinitely more creative and much deeper to look at.

I took the time to see how my inner life corresponded to my outer life. I realized with great surprise at how hard I was on myself internally. I found that I was easily shamed. I found that I was highly sensitive to criticism. It devastated me. I found that I bowed and bended to the winds of opinion and that I cared way too much about what other people thought of me.

As hard as it was to face my inner voices, my goal was to heal this pattern of judgment and criticism within me and without me so I could rightfully move forward in my life. As I integrated my inner life with my outer life I asked the same question again and again — "What part do I play in this drama?" Approaching any situation in life with such creativity and accountability is always an act of perseverance and dedication.

Persisting with Purpose

Peter Clothier writes, "Of all the disciplines involved, I think persistence is the most important and possibly the most difficult. There will inevitably be many distractions and many disappointments as I work, any which can weaken my resolve. Persistence is a rejection of distraction and and excuse that comes along and a return of my attention to the task at hand. It's a refusal to be deterred from the purpose I have set for myself. It is a quiet insistence on the pursuit of this particular goal."

Because I have erred on the side of trying to please everyone and have spent too much time worrying about what people think of me, I tend to have run-ins with bullying people in my creative and working life sometimes. As much as I wish everyone would like me, as a creative expressive person, I know this is humanly impossible. The more I become my strong creative self — the more I stand out for my efforts in the world and the more I become involved with a wide variety of people — the more I can incur criticism.

I try to get along with everyone and focus on the light I see in them — but some people are just plain unkind and unwilling to look at their part in things. I have in an over-idealistic way of spiritual seeking tried to see only the light in everyone and tried to unrealistically ignore the "dark" in hopes that it would just magically "disappear."


But as Roy Posner puts it, "The reality is that there are individuals who are ready to abuse you, and take advantage of your good nature. For example, it would particularly foolish to be self-giving towards those who harbor ill will towards you, or secretly hope to tear you down. If you extend yourself to such undeserved people, you will be surely inviting trouble."

After much writhing and resisting and railing about the interplay in my life of dark and light I have come to just meditate on why people do unkind or cruel things. Mostly it is because they refuse to look at themselves honestly and they then project their own unprocessed darkness out onto others. I have also realized that when I stand up and stand out I have to be willing to take some blows. I have come to see this a gift of learning how to build psychological strength.

The Urge to Create or Not Create

Recently I have had a dream that indicated I have a part inside of me that just wants to drop out of my creative life and disappear when the going gets rough. In my dream I had mouse colored hair! I was very meek and withdrawn. I had stopped creating and had taken a shy teenage level babysitting gig. In my dream, I was happy to disappear and not have a self.

I realized from the dream that as much as I cultivate my goals around persisting forward with my strong expressive and creative self — I also have an equal and opposite urge to not have an expressive creative self in the world. In my humanness, I get afraid. I hurt deeply. I lose my motivation. Sometimes I long to dive into the milky comfort of disappearing — of having no one know who I really am — so that I will draw no notice or contention from anyone.

Yet my soul does not want me to have mouse colored hair! As I slept last night I felt a defining movement in my soul that felt like the deepest level of persistence. It is hard to describe these movements of the soul except to say they are utterly involuntary. It felt as though the Larger Life was acting upon me — and that I could let go of control — because the movement was benevolent.

The Reconciliation of the Light and Dark Within

I "watched" the movement between the light and dark of myself all night long. I felt the battle between my two opposite pulls — the pull of my core creative strength — and the pull of the weak parts of my personality that just want to give up and disappear. All night long I felt the pull to give up and disappear and then an opposite and powerful persistent psychological power would rise up within my core to continue to strongly express myself. It was a profoundly curious feeling in my body. I was pulled back and forth between the two polarities all night long as though on a seesaw.

James Twyman explains this spiritual back and forth movement so well:

"So the question we must ask ourselves is: What needs to reconciled? Is it the way we separate ourselves from our shadows? Perhaps it's how we hide from our light. It's like a teeter totter that moves back and forth, up and down, until the reordering is complete. But in order to complete the process, we need to relax into areas of imbalance, darkness and trauma in our lives. We have to see it as a natural part of our evolution — an essential step of maturing into a whole new being where oneness is fully integrated. And to do so we need to reconcile all those diverging paths and all those seeming difficulties that make us believe we are not enough, we are not whole, or we are not loved by God."

Peter Clothier reminded me of a quote from Rumi: "Keep your eyes on the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you.">/p>

In this quote, I can thank the dark and unconscious energies inside of other people that have pierced me to my core. They have helped me to heal my own darkness. In my fear of criticism I have been reticent to play the game of life. I have been afraid to take risks and to express the "wrong things." I have been afraid to live in my creative magnitude and to persist in my purpose. As I drove home from work tonight I felt a sense of reconciliation in my soul. My own internal critical voices have quieted immeasurably. I felt the quiet roar of my core strength and a deep willingness to move forward in my life.

Next: Creative Life Force

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