Why Creativity

This post first appeared on TheTinLife on 1 May 2020.

© Abeer Y Hoque: The bridge to the sea

“Everything is hard before it is easy.” — Goethe

Hi my lovelies,

I hope you’re all hanging in there, and are in good health. I know some of you are in countries that are slowly lifting lockdown restrictions. I hope you all stay safe whatever your circumstances are.

When I thought about narrowing the focus for this new blog, I was clear about the self-care and the sustainability angles – subjects I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about and working on.

Creativity felt a lot more risky. After all, who am I to talk about creativity? (I am more often blocked than not.)

But the point of life, I believe, is be creative. It doesn’t have to only mean how it’s conventionally categorised either (art, music, writing, etc). The reason to keep it as one of this blog’s pillars ensures I’ll keep addressing it – for myself as much as you.

In this time in our history, we are bombarded with relentless input. It’s a non-stop stream of entertainment, news, information, opinions. I for one have reached saturation point.

If we don’t carve out space to express what we feel, what we believe, and what we think, then we are in danger of never actualising the privilege we have of being who we are.

It has been really easy for me to push away my own work and put my (passive) energies on other people’s output. It requires far less of me, and there is comfort in that.

The hard part is the realisation that it makes no sense to put myself out there unless I’m willing to get real and honest – like brutally honest. Otherwise, a bunch of pretty words strung together (or, as the case may be, a pretty melody or a pleasing picture) ultimately means nothing except passing (maybe even ultimately wasting) time.

Hiding behind my bravado is a whole lot easier than facing my own demons, than talking honestly about what hurts.

This is my fear: if I talk about the stuff that really matters, then I’ll be exposed. I’ll have nowhere to hide. I’ll lose my beloved armour.

But I know that for as long as I don’t bring it out into the open, then the fear has power over me. I’ve lived that way for so long, it’s become normalised. It’s like using a handkerchief to cover my nakedness – I remain in a state of panic, trying to do quick moves to constantly stay one step ahead, hidden as much as possible, hoping nobody’s noticed.

It’s easier to just stop. To drop the hanky. To say, this is me. I may be messed up. But I’m owning it.

To do this doesn’t require permission from anyone else.

Our only real offering is our truth. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and it often isn’t. 

I’m pledging to do the hard work. Whatever the outcome. Because this shit matters. This is the purpose of creativity.

I leave you with a quote that kind of makes me feel faint with terror but also inspired…

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

The beautiful image on this post is – fittingly – by one of the bravest artists I know, Abeer Y Hoque (whom I interviewed here). She is a writer, poet, photographer, editor and so much more. You can see more of her work on her website, Olive Witch.

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 I was deeply saddened this week to hear of the deaths of two remarkable actors, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, both from cancer.

I had the privilege of working with Rishi Kapoor on Do Dooni Chaar when I was at Disney, and accompanied him and his amazing wife and co-star, Neetu Singh, to New York for a film festival. Coming from a highly lauded film family, he started at age three and never stopped, leaving behind a lifetime of moving performances.

I sadly did not get to work with Irrfan Khan, though was absolutely wowed by his immense talent and he remains one of my all-time favourites. He was one of the few Indian actors who crossed over into Hollywood films, and did both with a rare kind of beautiful honesty. In English language films, he shone in The Namesake, Life of Pi, Darjeeling Limited, Slumdog Millionaire and many more. In Hindi films, I loved him in so many roles, including Paan Singh Tomar, where he played an athlete-turned-rebel, based on a true story. In Piku, he was his most charming self as the outsider who takes a father and daughter on a road trip, balancing their eccentricities with his own. He was an investigator in Talvar, based on a real-life murder case that stunned India. And most of all in The Lunchbox, where he played a widower who accidentally got someone else’s lunchbox at work.

Both extraordinary actors gave us film fans immense joy, and both will be deeply missed.

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