“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.”
– John F. Kennedy
Like the shift in weather, our personal lives go through so many different seasons. And aside from the sky above us, TREES seem to be the most obvious indicators of these changes.
Like the tree and its ever-changing leaves, we adapt to the environment around us. We rise. We sway. We fall. We grow. We change our appearance in subtle or big ways. Yet through every metamorphosis, one thing remains the same: that seed of CREATIVITY rustling underneath our core.
That’s right — every human being has an inner artist budding inside. Whether you indulge in your craft often, sporadically, or you don’t think you even have one (that passion being buried so deeply in a bed of pine needles), it doesn’t matter. Creativity is a part of your (and every being’s) NATURE.
Like oxygen and carbon dioxide is to trees, we need to absorb the inspiring air around us. . .and RELEASE it out into the open. We must dream big. . .and take action on whatever art calls to us individually. For me, that meant starting this blog. Frightening? Oh yes, embarrassingly so. Freeing? Beyond words; a grounding and a soaring all the same time. Every limb of my body and soul feels aligned.
So what is YOUR playful, passionate muse beckoning you to do? It’s time to branch out this fall and start creating something for the pure sake of it. Write a blog post. Do YouTube videos. Paint something. Play music. Start somewhere — and the magic will follow.
Ready to tap into that inner “tree of creativity”? Here are 8 life lessons from trees to take you there:
1. Plant The Seeds of Inspiration. . .and Then Slowly Keep Growing
“From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.”
Everything beautiful starts off small. The unseen idea starts off like dust in the air, practically naked to the eye. But eventually, that dust settles down into an idea. The idea becomes a seed. The seed gets sown under the soil. And with the consistent sun and rain, a small planting soon appears. . eventually growing into something big, tall, strong; sometimes even bearing fruit or flowers.
Reflection Questions: How will you wake up your creative muse today? Will you paint something random? Sign up for a creative class? Sing offkey and record yourself for fun? Free-write an entire page? Remember — this beginning is where your creative magic gets reborn to life again. Don’t judge the result. Just start now; start small.
2. Stand Tall & Reach for the Sky
“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”
When we’re little kids, we dream big. We reach for the stars. Our imaginations run wild and free. But as we grow up, we are often taught to stay small. Play it safe. Choose a career that’s “practical.” But this decade is a’changing. All those famous figures you admire? They got there because they reached for the skies. They ignored the societal scoffs and laughs. They chose to let their creativity SOAR.
Reflection Questions: What (without censoring the thought!) is or was a big dream of yours? What kind of lifestyle or job would you have if there were no judgment or anything “holding you back”? Let your mind go wild (even if it seems laughable or ridiculous). Take out a notebook and list out these thoughts or make a mind-map. Try to “feel” rather than think; the soul is where creativity stems from.
3. Dig Deep. . .Reconnect with Your Artistic Roots
“Our heart glows, and secret unrest gnaws at the root of our being. Dealing with the unconscious has become a question of life for us.”
Just like we must relearn to “reach for the sky”, we must also each deep within, and under. . .to unearth our hidden, subconscious creativity. Think about psychology, spirituality, philosophy, and everything in between. Tear-jerking, sublime creation comes from the deepest depths of who we are underneath our personalities. Our creations (poetry, music, movies, and more) expose our rawest roots.
Reflection Questions: What form of art moves/stirs you the most? Music, films, books, art, podcasts, etc.? Is there an art form you secretly dream of doing? Whatever pops up, let it rise naturally. Once you decide on what “creativity” or role model you’re inspired by, try a “mini” exercise in this; write 3 sentences; record 3 minutes of yourself talking; sketch out a quick picture. Let yourself be moved.
4. Be Still. . .Stay Grounded
“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.”
While we must “act” on our creativity, we also must actively learn to relish IN it — without the product. We must be grounded, centered, and STILL enough to hear the whispers of our soul amidst the “city buzz” we’re exposed to, day in and day out. Tune in what things call to you. Meditate more. Spent time away from your top 5 friends or family members. Figure out what really lights you up in and out.
Reflection Questions: How often do you schedule a 30-minute block of time to just be — or explore your creative side? As silly as it sounds, you need to block out FREE time to just be by yourself and figure out what that “niggle” inside is asking you to create. Just like a “spa day’, tune in for at least 10-30 minutes in the morning or evening to read, meditate, journal…you may be surprised what arises!
5. Branch Out. . .Explore New Dimensions of Your Creativity
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”
While “staying grounded and still” like a tree is essential, action is a necessity. But we must think more than outside the box; rather, we must BRANCH OUT of our “creative” labels. Creativity is not a clear-cut path. Maybe you’re a writer…but hey, maybe there’s a singer inside you, too. Think you’re great at graphic design? Maybe you’re a pro talk/podcast host, too! Explore your message in new ways.
Reflection Questions: Do you believe you have one, several, or no creative talents? Whatever your answer, play devil’s advocate and try to prove yourself wrong until “proven guilty.” Try out a month-long creative or physical class that’s out of your comfort zone (woodworking? why not? Ballroom dancing? Suuuree.). Make it a game by yourself or get a friend to join you. Who knows? You may just discover a new passion or talent!
6. Show Your True Colors. . .or Turn Over a New Leaf
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”
As cliche as it sounds, creativity is about showing our true colors. From vulnerability (letting our dark or washed-out hues be shown) to our bravest selves (bold, beautiful shades), let your art, whatever that may be, express that. Think again of a certain song or work that hit you to the core, and you felt understood. Art is something we should feel connected to — and ought to share with the world.
Reflection Questions: Do you share your form of creativity at all with the public (be that a blog, Etsy, a social media account)? If not, dare to try it out — even if you don’t share with your immediate family or friends for a while. If you do already share it, do you feel like your art is only a small portion of what you have inside you? If so, challenge yourself; take your next pieces to the next level and press *post*. (you trailblazer, you)!
So what is your “creative tree” calling you to explore this season? What other metaphors or affirmations help you “tap into” your artistic self? Share your ideas below!