Palettal Prose: Nourishing the Creative Life

Creativity is a shapechanger. One moment it takes this form, the next that. It is like a dazzling spirit who appears to us all, yet is hard to describe for no one agrees on what they saw in that brilliant flash. Are the wielding of pigments and canvas, or paint chips and wallpaper, evidence of its existence? How about pen and paper, flower borders on the green path, building a university? Yes, yes. Ironing a collar well, cooking up a revolution? Yes. Touching with love the leaves of a plant, pulling down ‘the big deal’, tying off the loom, findings one’s voice, loving someone well? Yes. Catching the hot body of the newborn, raising a child to adulthood, helping raise a nation from its knees? yes. Tending to a marriage like the orchard it is, digging for psychic gold, finding the shapely word, sewing a blue curtain? All are of the creative life. All these things are from the Wild Woman, the Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river, which flows and flows into our lives.

Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing. It seems in most instances to be in a simple being. It is virtuosity, although that is very fine in itself. It is the love of something, having so much love for something—whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity—that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must.

The creative force flows over the terrain of our psyches looking for the natural hallows, the arroyos, the channels that exist in us. We become its tributaries, its basins; we are its pools, ponds, streams, and sanctuaries. The wild creative force flows into whatever beds we have, those we are born with as well as those we dig with our own hands. We don’t have to fill them, we only have to build them.

~Clarissa Pinkolo Estes, Ph.D., Women Who Run With the Wolves

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