I'm angry with myself for the times I've let myself believe that creativity is a luxury, that it's a wasteful expense, and that it's completely unproductive. But here's the rub: as much as those thoughts are lies, there's a little truth in there, too, because we don't live in a utopian society. This is the paradox I'm learning to embrace in spiritual direction.
Just this morning I was talking with a person who was born, raised, and currently lives in Mexico. He was telling me that his city (and the larger culture of Mexico) doesn't have room for creativity or art. He said that in Mexico's second largest city there is only one functioning theater house. He said the "middle-class" don't have the funds to afford such "luxuries." And yet he believes it is a tragedy that it is inaccessible to everyone because it's so necessary for human flourishing to engage with beauty and art. There it is: it's necessary, but it's an economic luxury.
Therein lies the problem: due to economic realities we've elevated art to the elite. The solution is moving towards taking art-making and art-engaging back to the people.
For the people who need beauty the most--because it gives hope, encourages innovation, and creates more connected communities--have the least access to art. It's being taken out of education, and some museums are moving to "for profit" models of keeping their doors open. And those who have the most access to these galleries, museums, cathedrals, and opera houses have intellectually removed art from its context as a tool to lead to revelation, creativity, and awareness to the realm of anesthetized aesthetics.
So we need to do something dangerous: we need to create covertly together in our communities. We need to subtly and courageously bring beauty with us. We need to lean in to our creativity and show it off to the world. We need to spread the contagion of our unabashed and unashamed art-making. Dangerous not because it's life-threatening, but because it can be life-altering to you and those around you.
Think of the places in your community and life that are in need of beauty. Maybe it's at work, or in a public space where you live. Here are a few simple ways we can say yes today and take action:
What else?!?! I'm sure you all have a million great ideas. Share them with all of us in the comments here or on my Facebook page. I can't wait to hear what you come up with.