I recently started reading a book on creativity, and an early statement in the book caught my attention. It’s from sculptor Nina Holton, She says, “I like the expression ‘It makes the spirit sing,’ and I use it quite often.” She adds a bit further into the statement, “I feel that I do things that make a difference to me and give me great satisfaction.”
It amuses me to run across this quotation at this time. Now, I’m certainly an advocate of doing things that “make the spirit sing.” I love the feeling I get when I complete a good piece of writing or artwork. Even before anyone else gets to read the writing or see the art. It’s as if a void has been filled up to the smallest crack, with a material that exactly matches the rest of the whole. Completeness.
But regarding the timing of my encounter with the quotation, well, I’ve come to realize that in recent years I’ve limited the scope of that satisfaction more and more, to smaller and smaller things. My day-job, which has been a good one for me, doesn’t really satisfy my creative needs. Doing the job well has been important to me, but the fact is that it doesn’t require much from my creative skills. And I am a creative person. I think somewhere along the way, my spirit stopped singing over the day-job work. Which led me into a psychological depression.
Time and again, I’ve heard people say that most folks do not get to pursue the jobs, the activities that they most want to do. Because responsibilities make demands on their time and energies. At least that seems to be the most given reason. Keeping the roof over the head of family and self. My father said it to me once. A good friend made a similar observation recently. And yes, I do know that it is true. Most people work at jobs that provide for their needs, but give them no sense of inner satisfaction.
My problem is that even if I work at a job to meet the immediate needs, I cannot let go of the aim of pursuing my creative ambitions. I cannot imagine even giving up on thinking I can achieve them in some fashion or other. I find something profoundly sad in the idea of anyone saying “I always wanted to do Such-and-Such, but it just wasn’t going to happen.” That sentence is the death knell of the spirit’s song. And I don’t think it is something God ever really wants to hear from us.
Now, understand, what I’m talking about is doing things that we have the talents, ability and desire to do. I’m not talking about an innately clumsy person wanting to be a champion figure skater. Although, given the desire, determination, and willingness to do all that is needed, even that is not impossible.
And maybe that is the key part of the whole business for me. I don’t believe in the Impossible. If God in involved in the pursuit, how can it be impossible? Matthew 19: 26 and Luke 18: 27 both address this. Yes, those verses appear in a section where the subject is “Who can be saved?” Jesus’ response is “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” I think this goes beyond just the matter of who can be saved. I think it can apply to the whole of our lives.
Consider it: we’re talking about the Creator of the Universe, who designed everything from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the greatest expanses of galaxies. Is it so far-fetched to think that He might be interested in my own creative endeavors, interested with love and support, interested in seeing fulfilled the talents He has given me? I don’t think so.
Which brings me back to current events in my life. Although I hadn’t reached the “It just isn’t going to happen” stage, I was approaching it. I had actually been musing on the possibility that I’d gotten as far as I was likely to go – and this in spite of recent indications to the contrary. I hadn’t quite killed the Spirit Song, but I was getting mighty close to muffling it. Even when I was most wanting it to burst out into orchestral rhapsody.
So God gave me a kick in the seat of the pants. Thank you, God.
I don’t know that I will ever achieve high worldly success. I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that I was almost ready to give up on pursuing what makes my spirit sing. It’s not a matter of getting “older and wiser”. I think the pursuit should be life-long. It’s not merely the Dream of Youth. It should be the Dream of Life.
I don’t care how old you are, what the obstacles might be, what the hindrances might be: if it makes your spirit sing, you should be looking for ways to make it happen. Because to do less than that is to start shaving off pieces of joy from your life, from your soul. And who are we to carve up something that God designed to be whole?
When your spirit starts to sing over some activity, listen to it, follow the song. And don’t stifle it.