I remember the moment when I saw Elizabeth Gilbert’s famous TED talk on “Your Elusive Creative Genius”. It was 2009, way before I started to research creativity or decided to become an artist myself. Her talk raised my attention. I loved the idea that creativity comes from the Divine and it’s something beyond human grasp, a mystical concept that is more than our mere ego. In ancient Greece and Rome, people still believed that creativity was the presence of the divine spirit that came to human beings. Greeks famously referred to this spirit as ‘daemons’, while Romans used the term of genius. I still think it’s liberating to know that the process of creation doesn’t only depend on the fragile human soul.
“…Romans did not actually think that a genius was a particularly clever individual. They believed that a genius was this, sort of magical divine entity, who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist’s studio, kind of like Dobby the house elf, and who would come out and sort of invisibly assist the artist with their work and would shape the outcome of that work.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Humans approached creativity in the West in this context for many centuries. However, with the prosperity of Renaissance an another idea came, namely putting individuals at the centre of the Universe, rejecting any possibility of divine intervention and the existence of a higher source. This point in history also signalled the beginning of rationality, and the well-accepted theory that creativity sparks from the excellence of the human self. Now, artists don’t have a genius, but they’re geniuses themselves.
I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert stating that it was a rather destructive turn, because the human psyche is too vulnerable and fragile to take on such a responsibility. This line of thinking distorts the ego and creates such level of perfectionism that can never be met. We’ve seen several examples in history where artists couldn’t bear their own talent and engaged in destructive behaviors. In 2013, when I started to follow Julia Cameron’s different courses in creative recovery, I felt a sigh of relief. “Dear Creative Force, I take care of the quantity, and you take care of the quality”, became my daily mantra. I learnt to approach my creative process in a healthy way, taking baby steps day by day, not judging the end result. I learnt to create bad art in order to become extraordinary one day. I learnt to accept my human flaws, not being too harsh on myself. After 3 years of daily practice, hundreds of exercises, and more than 3000 pages read in the topic, I’m able to inspire hundreds of people around the world as a professional dancer. Creating actually became a blessing, and part of my true self, joined with the mission to show a path to other individuals towards creative self-expression. Taking that extra burden off my shoulder, and accepting that I’m just part of a bigger Universe did create a big difference. Without serious self-promotion and hard work, people are searching me up now to ask for guidance and help.
I learnt to lead a life defined by service and not my ego…
Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk –» LINK
Favorite Quiz The Book of Life questionnaire –» LINK