Today I saw a rhino flipped over beside a garage. Not a real one, I hasten to add. I doubt any real rhino is flippable. This one is life sized and constructed of wire, affixed to the ground with, well, something that wasn’t enough. Enough to hold it down as a huge gust of wind barrels through on its way to somewhere else, leaving whispered stories in our ears and collecting more along the way. Winds are rumour gatherers for sure.
The gusts yesterday twisted themselves into fists and punched hard when they came. The strangeness of intense heat combined with fat cotton clouds created by a mountain range never fails to puzzle me. Where the hellebore did that come from? It was just like that. Swim towels took off like petals and the plains sand filled our teeth. Books opened and pages threatened to rip and disappear leaving the avid reader unsure for all time as to whodunnit. The breeze of the storm to come (that’s a line from a Capercaillie song) only it didn’t. Come.
Nonetheless this rhino is all wonky chops beside the road, its precious horn stuck in the greenery, its latter end pointing to the stars. It thinked me of the close relationship between Create and Destroy. A warm breeze can soothe. So can a cool one. Wind dries the washing, carries the sun over acres of eager wheat, sends the leaves on the trees into a tremble of beauty, music and colour. It can lift the sea into diamond ripples or it can stir it up into 40ft waves that demand lives. It can flip a rhino.
And it is the same within each one of us. We can create or we can destroy and sometimes we have no idea how to control that dichotomy, that immense power. Those of us who admit to being creatives without any hope of not being creatives, even for five minutes, have a duty to self and to all the other selfs who share our world. We know just how destructive we can be when we turn away from our gift. With every gift given comes a duty. To abandon that clear sense of duty will lead many into the slough of despond because any self-confessed creative will, by definition, be extremely powerful, loaded with charisma and in the public eye, whether we like it or not. We don’t have to write a best seller (loathe the overuse of that term) nor paint a masterpiece, nor discover a new way to harness the wind. We might live in a cave and never go out, but be sure that many folk will know exactly where that cave is situated. A self-confessed creative may try to hide but the thing is that there are hundreds if not thousands of other trainee creatives who need to learn from us. There is no option for bushel hiding of our light. It just isn’t allowed, not when we are the recipient of a gift. I didn’t ask for it. It drives me round the wahoo most of the time, but no matter how much duvet I pull over my head, someone will always pull it back.
When that creative gift is ignored for longer than an acceptable forty winks, it turns nasty. The best analogy for this dangerous state is manifested in Gollum. His gift, the ring, could have changed his life for the better had his heart been good. It wasn’t, and he didn’t and he ended up living deep underground and crunching on auks. It is not so different with we who live above ground and in the Now. I see it all around me and it makes me sad. Many of the loveliest of men and women I know, unborn creatives who were never encouraged to follow their hearts and who opted for a settle-for life, are deep in the dark and crunching on auks. Alcohol overuse, retreat from the world, living in incongruence, miserable and full of questions and regrets is not really a life at all. We think, mistakenly, that if we opt for a life that pleases others, makes them smile, this will be enough. It isn’t. It cannot be enough and it never will be because each heart has its own calling and there are more gifts unused than used. I hear people say, laughingly, in passing, There’s Not a Creative Bone in My Body. I snort and put them right, but, for many, it feels too late to go wild, to actually listen to all those messages from their hearts left unopened on the door mat. It makes me deeply sad. We only get one life, or that’s what I believe. I don’t fancy coming back as a rhino or a bluebottle anyway and the very thought of returning as a human makes me want to go straight to sleep.
I don’t think it is ever too late to listen to the guidance within. It takes practice, but so does everything else a person learns in a lifetime. Nobody knows how to make a perfect omelette without practice. We are happy to study and practice if it relates to our work but completely disinterested in practicing at being ourself. It’s bonkers, but true. However, bear this in mind. A creative flow, if left to flood the plains will only bring destruction in the end, and the creative flows through each and every one of us, regardless of parental or peer put downs. What do they know, after all? Are they me? Are they you?
Have a listen inside, ask the questions, and wait. I promise you answers will come from the best friend you will ever have.