Creative expression has always been a great source of healing to me. Whatever I went through in life, creative expression allowed me to mine the depths of my emotions. No matter how difficult or traumatic the events I experienced, creativity always gave me a joyful outlet.
I started writing poetry and songs from a very young age and one of my first poems was called ‘A Date With Mother’. It was a humorous take on the over-protective mother syndrome and the control they exude trying to keep their girl-children safe. Written in Barbadian dialect, it allowed me to describe the experience of being born British to Barbadian parents.
The first lines were:
Get back by a certain time ya hear girl? Too many bad men out dere for you to flaunt y’self all night. I ain’t know how you got ya hair curl. You young people nowadays tink ya so sophisticated when wunna look a bloody sight! I just hope ya mind grow as fast as ya body, udderwise you gon’ see a big, surprise, tings gon’ be a happenin’ dat mek ya eye dem, open wide!
*See glossary at the end of the article
That poem marked the beginning of my questioning the nature of rules and restrictions through my unique creative expression. With my school mates I was expected to allow my sexuality to blossom and flourish. At home, not so much. That one rule at home, another rule in wider society syndrome, was key. Especially when it was inflected with super-strict and straight talking Barbadian idioms and values. My journey was to understand how these conflicting rules met in the middle.
Outer displacement leading to inner exploration
That sense of displacement and not quite fitting, in either culture, was the catalyst for a much deeper exploration. Not that I ever really needed a catalyst if I’m honest! It caused me to question everything – all that we take for granted as known and true.
I’m so grateful for those feelings of displacement now. They caused me to join the Black Power Movement, the Women’s Movement, and later the Socialist Workers Movement. They also led to me coming out as bisexual via the LGBT community in my 20’s.
Yet I was shocked to learn that in each movement there was prejudice, fear, compromises, rules of belonging, and right and wrong ways to be. There were of course, also feelings of empowerment and embracing of self. The latter is what I took from each of these, while rejecting their this is the way things are, and you have to agree in order to belong, dialogues.
I mention this because of what I see playing out in our cultures and politics these days. There’s a blatant choose-a-side mentality. We’re all trying to fit ourselves into tiny boxes that are supposed to encompass all the differing aspects of who we are. This endless them and us, play.
No one fits into a rigid box
Trying to do so, creates confusion and an often unwilling alignment with those we’d rather not be around. It doesn’t tend to allow any room for ongoing growth and personal evolution. It doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, that heart of the matter being: all boxes are ultimately conceptual and limiting.
We’re not encouraged to look at who we are beyond our skin colour, income brackets and education levels. We struggle to see beyond our gender identities, or our religious, spiritual and irreligious beliefs. We must – these invisible boxes say, be rigid in our identities and definite with those we see as our enemies or allies.
Creative expression can be a way to break out of that box – when it’s done with authenticity of course. Creativity that simply plays by prescribed rules or follows whatever is popular at the time, often has the whiff of staleness to it. That’s because it doesn’t cause us to really investigate who we are and what we really believe about life.
In everything, to go beyond what is known and blindly accepted, is usually the path of the creatives, visionaries and healers. It is their ability to utilise their gifts to go beyond prescribed norms, that often produces great change. Their strengths and passions are generally used in service to authentic exploration of blindly accepted societal rules. Think of the great individuals or leaders of movements who inspire you and see if this is not so.
Creativity isn’t simply about art and music, it incorporates creative thinking, creative solutions and creative resolutions that serve all. When it is tapped into willingly and with conscious intent, we are then freed to be the fluid and ever-growing expressions of life that we were always meant to be.
Poem Glossary: *Mek = Make *Wunna = You *Ya eye dem = Your eyes
This article was previously published on LinkedIn
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