This is an excerpt from a book I am working on about Creativity. The book, like the workshops we teach, utilize 6 Principles as a framework, roadmap to allowing more artistry, more creativity into our lives. This excerpt is taken from the chapter on Soul, Principle #6. -NW
Aristotle defined Soul as the inner core, the essential essence of a person or a living thing. Sometimes, I believe however, an inanimate object can be imbued with this same essence. When enough passion and life force is contributed into the making of something, it almost seems magically to carry with, to hold within its center a small degree of this very same soulfulness. This aspect, this overflow of soul into a work is what transforms an activity, an effort, a creation into something more valuable and rare. It changes it, pushes it into an entirely new realm. It’s called Art.
The whole notion of creativity is about bringing something into existence that hasn’t existed before. Like magic, all manner of things can be made visible whether it’s a beautiful ceramic pot, a birthday cake, a painting or a marble sculpture. But here, and this being the very last principle of the 6, is where we can take a breath and relax. Because this Sixth Principle, Soul, develops in our work on it’s own. We simply need to be ourselves. Show up and pay attention as deeply as possible. And, this is important, we need to earnestly care about what we’re making. This intention, Soul, is the aspect of ourselves that is perfectly constant. It is carried inside us and is the primary thread, the guiding light of the creative arc of our life.
Interestingly, asking questions seem to be the easiest way to ease into an understanding about Soul.
Questions such as “What is important for you? What is engaging? What do you care about? These simple questions if answered truthfully will invariably lead us to the kind of creativity that results in work with a high degree of Soul. After all, if it is imbued with this quality then it will be, like you, totally unique. It will be yours. And it’s this uniqueness, this highly personal expression that creates the tremendous value to your work. Especially for others.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see this thread, this continuum in what we are making. Creative efforts are often accomplished in fits and starts. Changes occur rapidly and at other times not at all, but in the persistence of our efforts, it’s reassuring to know that if we consistently pay attention and put care into whatever we are making that much of our concerns about our apparent successes or failures will fall by the wayside.
It is, in the beginning, sometimes difficult to see the value of our own individuality. Especially so when much of our work, up ahead, cannot be seen as it lies quietly waiting in the future, unmade.
David Whyte, the poet, philosopher writes, “ If we can see the path laid out in front of us there is a good chance it is not our path. It is probably someone else’s we have substituted for our own.”
Rest assured, if we are paying attention earnestly, staying true to what is important and engaging to us then, much of our creative journey will take care of itself.