During lockdown, I’ve managed to get myself a little morning routine. I won’t bore you with the details, but if it’s a nice day, I’ll squeeze in a walk before I start work. Luckily, I’m back in the north of England so these walks are relatively peaceful and sometimes I get lost in my thoughts a bit. Sometimes I stumble on a nugget of pseudo-wisdom (that I’ve probably definitely picked up elsewhere) and have an Aha! moment. More specifically an Aha! This’ll be something for the blog, moment. (Writers can’t let shit go. They are always trying to squeeze potential material out of literally every single thing they do.)
Anyway, my latest moment of this led me to think of what I’m going to call the Human Trifecta (which I’ve just googled and it looks like it doesn’t exist – yay). And to me, this is the three essential things that make up or contribute to what we need to feel satisfied and dare I say it, happy.
On this walk I was pondering on what it would take on the most fundamental level for us humans to not only function, but thrive. I boiled it down to the three following things, in no particular order:
- Ambition (more specifically, career-led)
- Physical activity
With two of those things, we’re fine. We’re bumbling along. With just one, we probably won’t be all that satisfied, if, say, your career is thriving, but you never move your body or stimulate your creative side. Or if you’re a ripped athlete, but you don’t make nearly enough money to sustain that lifestyle or have time to explore other aspects of creativity (though one could argue bodybuilding is creative, therein they’ve bagged 2 out of the 3 and may well be satisfied – but not maximising their potential.)
But if you’re stimulating all three of those areas, then I would hedge a bet that life’s (objectively) pretty good. You’re focused on personal growth in your career (at whatever stage it may be), you’re moving your sacred body and keeping it youthful (and the brain chemistry active) and you’re finding time to get lost in your creative, playful side – which is arguably the most important one of all.
But you might then say: “Well, Alice, not everyone has this much time to be able to juggle all of those things.” Except, you do. Everyone has time. It’s just about how you manage it. If you really care about it, you will make time for it (in most circumstances).
But aside from the career, making time applies mostly to carving out opportunities for physical activity or creativity. The former, if you are physically able, is relatively straightforward, once you get past the mental resistance, if that’s where you are. The more you do it, the more your brain craves it. But with creativity, that’s a whole ‘nother ball park.
Unlike exercise, you can’t demand creativity to happen. You can’t (try as one might) sit down and say: “Ok. I’m going to make something right now.” It just doesn’t work that way – and by all means, it shouldn’t.
For starters, if you’ve been in a bit of a creative lull, or even still, have never approached the idea because it scares you to death a little, be gentle. You have to approach it like you would a timid lil bunny. You have to start with curiosity and experimentation, asking yourself: “What did I used to enjoy? What would I find fun? What have I always wished I could do?” Is it drawing? Painting? Collaging? Embroidery? 3D train model-making? Poetry? Architectural blueprints? Rapping? Salsa dancing? Making sock puppets? Or Play-doh mansions? It could be anything. All you have to do is channel your inner child’s curiosity: the untouchable, priceless innocence only kids have before puberty comes along and quashes our self-esteem and makes us question everything. Moreover, don’t force it, or that lil bunny will just run away. Coax it out gently, slowly, then when you’re ready, get going, with that reckless abandon you’ve always heard of but never experienced!
One thing to remember with creativity is that it’s so personal. It’s so individualistic. We can often get caught up in the ego-driven perspective that art only has to be something you physically make, but that’s not true. Creativity doesn’t have to be concrete – if you can let yourself out of that self-limiting belief and know that whatever you create, in whatever format, is unique to you – that’s what’s beautiful.
If that still feels completely out of your depth, then read about creativity. There are so many books out there that discuss fear in relation to it, how so many ideas pass us by because we don’t think they’re worthy, or we don’t think we’re capable. A great start is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. A laugh-out-loud, non-serious account on how to claim your creative spark because it’s out there waiting for you, you just need to go get it. Once you’ve overcome your chronic feelings of doubt and self-loathing, of course! Easy peasy, right?!
(In all seriousness, be kind to yourself – don’t criticise your art before you’ve even made it. Would you say all those mean things to little you? Probably not.)
Well, looks like Alice went off on a tangent there again. But to sum up, right here is what I think we all need especially at the moment. If we’re fortunate to have a job, great – let’s try our best to move forward. If we’re fortunate to have a physically able body, excellent – let’s move it as much as we can. And if we’re at the place where we feel like we can approach our creative sides – do it. Jump in. That scared feeling is good! If you’ve got all (or at least 2) of those areas of the Human Trifecta down, then you should be on the path to satisfaction. But if not, be kind to yourself and recognise you are on the way! God, maybe I should start a cult. That’s a creative project, right?