Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Creating a Legacy
Our souls are captivated by creation. Whether we believe in evolution or creation, we interact daily with what we have had no part in forming. This fascination seems inherent. Consider a sunset. Although this happens every day, I have at least fifty pictures of various sunsets on my phone. Artists continue to depict these scenes, decade after decade, in various locations, capturing the details which make each one unique, like a thumbprint. One day, soft hues of orange cast a romantic glow in the sky; the next, brilliant pinks and purples tinge the clouds in the foreground with silver linings. We savor each note of our favorite song, basking in the lyrics which seem to express feelings we could never put into words. Then, we hit repeat. Perhaps we like the permanence that comes with these events. We can rely on them. They bring us the joy of beauty, the peace of having something to depend upon, and the inspiration we often need to encourage us.
We have all benefited from the creations of others. Whether they occur in nature or are the result of people leaving their legacy of creative “footprints,” they leave an important and lasting impression on us.
Yet, creativity is much richer than what we gain from the creations of others. We also benefit from the process of connecting with our own creative gifts. Not everyone sees themselves as a “creative type;” however, every person truly is just that.
Being creative is simply taking our unique gifts and passions and bringing them into existence. When we do this, we make some inner part of ourselves visible. This visibility allows us to become more self-aware. It allows us to unearth the true condition of our hearts, examine them and to compare notes with others. It proves to us that we have something to offer, something greater to contribute. It allows us to believe in our own potential and worth. Creativity sets us apart from others, yet still draws us together. This gorgeous paradox reminds us that we all win when we create. It is good for the self and it is good for the community. A song that allows an artist to express herself can also provide an outlet for the listener. Posting your decorative style on Pinterest shares your ideas and beauty with an online community. Once we see our own abilities in action, we begin to hope. We can change existence and influence the world. Creativity helps us understand and believe in ourselves.
Creativity sets us apart from others, yet still draws us together.
Cultivation of Creation
To make the most of our abilities, we must begin by discovering our own creative identity. Some of us are already aware of our gifts. But what about the rest of us? It is worth some introspection to figure it out. What brings you joy? What are your strengths? It could be almost anything — only you and those who know you well are qualified to decide.
Whether you already know your passion or are still figuring it out, once you put your finger on your creative pulse, carve out time in your life to pursue it. What has been keeping you from releasing your creative energies? Perhaps it is a time constraint or an issue of self-confidence. Maybe you have bought into the fairly popular idea that being creative is just a waste of time.
Creativity, like any process that develops growth, requires time. You may have to deliberately add this into your schedule, but even an hour a week is a good place to start. Next to time, space is equally as important. I find it very difficult to write at home because I get distracted too easily. I prefer the cliché and white noise of a coffee shop. Your space will depend upon your chosen passion.
Understanding your creative gift means having a deeper understanding of yourself. Don’t expect immediate results; be patient. If you prefer to create alone, bask in the solitude! If you need more support, share your ideas with a trusted friend. If you find strength in numbers, seek out groups of people looking to hone their skills in the same area, such as taking a cooking class at the local community center.
Whatever you do, look for opportunities to use your gift. It will enhance your own life with the joy of your realized potential and allow you to leave your legacy — those “footprints” which will encourage others to leave their own unique stamp on the world.
Tell us, where does your passion and creativity lie?
Image via Milena Mallory