Feel that being creative is both a gift and a challenge? I know I do. Being creative can be a gift, in the sense that I am always coming up with something brand new. Or creating a new answer to an ongoing issue, taking a project to the next level or adding another layer to an ongoing conversation. If you’re infused with creativity, you have no problem allowing new ideas to arise through your expanded consciousness, divinely inspired or simply a result of diving deep into an interest.
But lately, creativity feels more and more challenging to stay on task and create the things I want to follow. I hit obstacles — finding place for my work, waiting for reaffirmation on a project, looking for collaboration with like minds on a larger one — it feels impossible to stay focused on any one project / task / goal at any given time. Never mind other factors that get into the mix – emotions – or even worse, the Internet, the largest time suck of them all.
I feel as pulled in as many directions as there are hours in the day. I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s even harder if any one particular project hasn’t yet taken root, pulling you into focus for months on end. The mind is continually coming up with new things or revisiting the ideas of old – which are merely things the mind came up with some time ago and you haven’t yet done. It’s those ideas that often become our life’s work – or our work for at least a while.
And that’s it right there. Choosing the one thing – for a time or for forever. Because once the creative mind takes up a cause or a direction, the opportunities arising later often are rooted in the original idea.
For instance, Wildsight was an effort I began to advocate awareness for roadside wildlife. Our country loses some one million animals to the pavement daily. Helping to save everything that walked, crawled or flew from imminent harm of death by roadway is one of my raison d’être.
I’ve been yelled at for pulling over suddenly onto a shoulder to rescue a groundhog from death by roadway back in the Midwest, with a trailer full of polo ponies in tow that weren’t so pleased with my altruistic efforts. I’ve screamed from the back seat of my father’s Oldsmobile to honk at the raccoon in the dark of night to scare him back into the forest preserve. And I’ve pissed off more than a few drivers when I leaned over from the passenger seat, blasting the horn in an effort to deter curious prairie dogs from discovering what the fuss over the center line was indeed all about.
Caring about saving animals from death on the highway has been both my foundation and my focus to which I return, again and again. After a two-year study on the perils and impacts of roadways on our wildlife, I felt certain I could make a difference with my Masters in Ecopsychology in hand. When that revealed little opportunity beyond minimum wage nonprofit employment, I went on to create a cycling apparel company. At the time, I’d found my joy and athletic existence on mountain roadways. I tried to entice fellow cyclists out of their Daz Bogg jerseys and instead sport my beautiful new ones embodying a golden eagle.
Passing motorists will see the message, Expand your peripheral vision to include wildlife, and not just some coffee company,
was my pitch. The excitement grew as I moved one step closer to manifesting a version of my dream. I felt I’d found a new and highly visible way to advocate for wildlife to passing motorists on the Peak-to-Peak and other Colorado highways.
Twenty-five Thousand Dollars and several containers of the finest cycling apparel made in the U.S. later, I had been forced to reckon my enthusiasm and dream with my bank account. I donated my apparel to HawkQuest, with the hope that they raise a few bucks to buy some mice for their hawks and eagles, and moved on to writing and outreach instead.
My focus remained: I still wanted to help save animals.
Do I consider Wildsight a failure? Of course not. It was a fabulous learning experience, the opportunity for which I feel gratitude. I followed a passion for which I cared for animals and tried to do something about it. (I also learned cyclists are generally more interested in sponsorships and not environmental causes and that market research was not my thing, but I digress.)
The point is — anything a creative takes on will require focus and dedicated, sustainable and ongoing commitment. Sometimes a creative project doesn’t manifest in the external world the way we’d like it to, and we have to go on to the next project. Sometimes we have to go at it from another angle, or find another voice in which to speak. Sometimes we have to find other ways in which to reach people. And sometimes we have to find ways to focus through the challenges and distractions. It’s all part of being a creative and an advocate for something you love. It requires a lifelong dedication and commitment. But when you feel connected in your heart to something, it is the love that sustains, when real world obstacles cloud your vision and details like market research get in your way. When that happens, we have to wipe our glasses clean to see our way through again…