serve the muse

P3050429A few days ago I watched stories being shared by a group of storytellers. Each brought their own creative flair to traditional tales. As one of the participants observed,

Listening to a story lifts the text from two to three dimensions.

Not literally, as listeners conjure up their own pictures from the words the teller uses. Those three dimensions exist in the imagination of the teller and they are offered through words, gesture and movement as a gift to the listener. We were able to picture cottages wrapped in roses, seekers stumbling upon rings that granted wisdom, a woman offering jewels on a platter to thieves, a servant daring himself to stand naked on a wintry hilltop warming himself by the distant fire of his wife’s love. All began from a page or two of written text yet were coloured by the storyteller’s unique pictures.

For both speaker and listener, imagination is a creative act.

Creativity was the subject of a Ted radio hour I heard on Australia’s Radio National on the same day. I love the idea posed by Elizabeth Gilbert that we honour a creative muse who resides outside ourselves. It seems so much more vital to celebrate the particular way our creative genius can speak through us to the world, than to worry about the pathway to success.

So often we get hooked on the message that we haven’t made it unless we are well-known, well paid, or trending on Twitter. If we can serve our gifts with sufficient courage, humility and attention, then whatever occurs will be fitting. And it won’t matter whether we are known only to a few or to the very many. In whatever I do, whether as a teacher of dispute resolution, an educator in storytelling and communication, a poet, a writer or a washer of plastic bags–I’ve just hung a crop on the line–I want to bring that same energy of careful attention and allow the possibility of creativity.

So, let’s listen for what wants to be lifted from one dimension to greater complexity in our own lives. What art or craft or dalliance serves to let our souls speak to the world and strengthens both our uniqueness and our connection with all that is beyond us.