Artist's Make Love to Whatever They Need

On Replenishing Creativity | January 20, 2024

Rapid Reflections: A series in which I sit down to write whatever’s on my mind without thinking about it too hard. The goal is to write + share once a week.

Identifying as an artist means I spend most of my time drawing in energy to create. I imbue my days with the sacredness of paying attention and building. I have a knack for quickly disassociating into inner worlds. I slip into flow states and time slips away.
When I surface I’m depleted. Worse are the times I’ve walked down a spiral staircase of depletive cycles. The mindset of an athlete - to just push through - can drive a builder into the ground.
So, how can I replenish creativity? I’ve been circling three themes.
• • •

I. Surrender

Has anything led to more turbulence than white-knuckling an experience? I suspect surrender is the word that will take on the most shades of meaning throughout my life. I also suspect that to understand surrender I will need to understand my body, and hold the state of an “at peace nervous system” for longer time periods. Surrender is a gateway to replenishing creativity. Letting go of all the shoulds to make space for what is - that is freedom. Art reveals. It gives away its creator’s inner landscape. I don’t want to create from a trapped place.
So why is surrender so hard? It’s felt like a surging towards a death. Because what I’m holding onto so tightly has in some way served me, even if it’s hurting me more. Surrender puts me back in my body, to feel pockets of pain I’d rather not. It’s a shedding and an admission that everything is changing, nothing lasts. Surrender is a twisting to find beauty in the death of old me’s. To replenish creativity, I have to allow for the small deaths of what was.

II. Ritual

Ritual creates a comforting container for the brutality of surrender. I suppose surrender could be soft, but I haven’t experienced that. The softness comes after. I have softness in my rituals. Early mornings. Hot showers. Palo santo candles and incense. Warm sweaters. Black espresso. Journaling 3 pages. Writing out the 1 thing I want to do well that day. Starting a 1 hour timer on my phone as I pull up vscode on my monitor, the latest 3 songs I love on repeat. Ritual is where the athletic discipline can show up. It’s where I dig my desired neural pathways in deeper. It’s where I marry intellectual journeys with my own curated aesthetic as I fall down the rabbit hole. Guarding my rituals before and after a creative process replenishes.

III. Adventure

I wrote adventure and then felt the tension of exploring replenishment without rest being a central theme. I can’t speak to rest as a source of replenishment - I rest but I probably don’t rest well. My enneagram therapist tells me I’m low on the self-preservation instinct. What’s the point of these rapid reflections if I’m not going to be honest. Adventure it is.
Adventure - that has been my creative amplifier. Traveling to a new city, meeting a group of new people, going to an old movie alone, cycling a new route, going to a museum. To take a hero’s journey outside of my building fixation gives me a new headspace for tackling problems. It’s like opening all the windows in a dusty house. Adventure lets the air in.
• • •
I like these themes as a start. It is still nagging me that there should be a source of rest here for replenishing creativity. I find rest alone in the woods, but that feels like an adventure. I find rest in my relationships, in the homes I feel within the people I love. And yet, that is not the same as sleeping or “doing nothing.” In writing this I'm sensing there's more to tease out with the question "what is rest?".
I suppose this brings us back to our title - artist’s make love to whatever they need... to replenish creativity. In my case to replenish creativity is to make love to surrender. To make love to ritual. To make love to adventure.