Hmmm. I hadn't got quite as far as the awareness gained in those last three sentences, to be honest, even in my morning pages. I'm going to sit with that for a minute. I beg your indulgence.
I'm needing that time, I guess, because my brand of creativity skews to the quirkily personal and domestic and quotidian . . . and ordinary, I guess, but the idiosyncratic or particular ordinary. Which would be fine if I kept it to myself or tried to share it with a like-minded friend or two. But which can elicit some very noisy "Who do you think you are?" questions, inner critical voices inculcated over decades, in the early hours of a morning -- and in the metaphorical (or even metaphysical) early hours as well.
And those voices have gathered some strength since my retirement from a position (a title, a persona, a professional identity) that conferred a certain impunity. But they've been part of my personality since I skipped Grade One, over 60 years ago, and found myself, an early reader but still an occasional thumb-sucker, in the midst of a cohort that seemed much more cognizant of the way this new world operated.
Yesterday, at a Creative Mornings talk here in Vancouver, I listened to a compelling presentation about personality profiles and creativity, about three "instincts" that influence, even govern, the way we direct and nurture our creativity. As the speaker described the third instinct, the social one (the first was Sexual or Activating; the second Self-Preservation, think creature comforts) I had one of those "Pings" that invite us to make a small, but potentially very transformative twist in perspective. Basically, as I understood and experienced the insight, my heightened (social) attention to reception of my creative activity can be a strength, but also forms a blind spot. It's constraining me. Not to mention keeping me awake in the wee hours.
I'm not quite sure, yet, where I'm going with this. Immediately after that insight, still digesting it and seeing its application to my writing, both here and in work I'm doing off-screen, I went for coffee with a young woman I'd just met, a young woman who'd also heard the talk. The conversation was a delight, rich and honest and wide-ranging. As it came to an end, and we headed in our separate directions, we exchanged Instagram "handles," as a quick and easy way to stay in touch. I suspect it's that exchange that had me awake at 4 a.m., and my discomfort arises from being viewed through my online representation of myself.
Not that I think this woman is looking (I suspect she's too busy to bother, realistically), but that my social instinct was triggered -- and that my response is to assume and fear ridicule, against a certain amount of evidence to the contrary. And that assumption and fear exacts--and always has exacted--a cost, exercises a constraint on my creativity. Says that it's too little or too ordinary or too domestic or too quirky. And regularly, sneers at my blogging and begs me to stop embarrassing myself.
I said I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but perhaps I do. Perhaps I want to remind myself that I was brave enough when I began this blog (twelve years ago? Really?!) to want to write my ordinary domestic quotidian as part of my whole life, such as it was at the time. There wasn't (supposed to be) much space for that in the life of an academic, which I'd come to after raising my four kids, but I wanted to "keep it real," I guess. My version of a feminist act. I wasn't thinking of it as "creative" at the time, but I'm beginning to these days. Quirkily ordinary, domestic, daily creativity. The kind that I'm going to claim as work and privilege and responsibility to represent one version of a woman's life, the far side of 65. . .
That's enough. Heck, that's probably too much. Let me reward your reading patience with a visual diversion, an illustration of quirky, ordinary, domestic, daily creativity taken to the ridiculous. . . . A page from my travel journal, sharing the contents of the little pouch I used to carry around the dental-care products required by my Invisalign regime (oh, the teeny, tiny European semi-public/restaurant/train WCs I've flossed in, cringed in, brushed my teeth in as quickly as possible).
And that's a wrap!
If you care to comment to today's quirky maunderings, let me reiterate that I'm not fishing for reassurance here (although I'm never averse to thoughtful encouragement). But I do wonder if you've thought much about the relation between your own creativity and your "social instinct" as our enneagram-trained speaker talked about yesterday. Does your social awareness influence your own creativity? And finally, a wild card question, has anyone else ever cared for their teeth in a tiny bathroom in transit? Gross, right?! Ugh!