Long before the days of the internet and laptops, I discovered my parents’ typewriter. I thought it was amazing. I loved the sound of it, the smell, the weight of the keys. Then one day my mother brought home a word processor, and things were even more amazing. I spent hours sitting in front of that keyboard, in awe of the fact that I could write my words into that screen. I could save them. I could come back to them. It felt like a little secret. It felt really powerful. It felt like the world was at my fingertips, and all of this without the internet.
And then I found poetry when I was 10 years old. Dickinson was my favorite. I chose her when I was in elementary school as a focus for a girl scout project because she had the same name as my older sister. But I developed a fascination with her. Those words were heavy and full. I memorized her poems. The bustle in a house. The morning after death. I was intrigued by her life, her choices both on the paper and off. So tragic. But she created a powerful beauty on paper.
I began to write my own poems. I wrote about everything. I shared my poems. I gave them away. I saved them all on the word processor. I amassed quite the collection. Some stuck. Some were weak. Some were ramblings. Some were favorites. But I was creating. I was making something out of mere thoughts from my head, random ideas, moments of inspiration, whatever I chose. And that something I was creating, even the bad ones, had a powerful beauty to them. It felt amazing.
And one day I stopped writing. I grew busy. Life became full and my to-do list became too long. My writing didn’t seem important anymore. It wasn’t a priority and I let it go. I put everything in a box. I let all of those poems get thrown out when the word processor became a dinosaur.
I woke up earlier this year and realized I had no creative outlet. I had a very full life, but my creative energies were stifled, dormant, neglected.
And then one day a dear friend told me to open up a word document on my computer. She told me to sit in front of it every single day, even if just for a few minutes, and to start typing. She said not to think much about it, just move your fingers and see what comes out. Some days it will be short, sweet and maybe even meaningless. Some days you will find that your soul opens up and some pretty amazing things flow out. Those days will be pretty awesome, she said. And they are. I feel like I’ve found a part of myself that I was fortunate to find at the age of 8, but then lost completely, for years.
Cultivating creativity can be hard to prioritize in a busy life. It can be so easy to let work, cleaning, working out, parenting, everything else that we fill up these 24 hours with, get in the way of our creative outlet. But creativity is important, whatever it is for you. It matters. It makes you feel alive. Creation is a powerful, beautiful thing.
A poem from a long time ago...
Today I was walking down a busy sidewalk
while a city bus rolled by
filing my lungs
with thick emissions
and I was reminded
and I was missing
days in the country with you,
my small sister,
when we stepped out the front door
to the giant Catalpa
and begged its beans down with hula-hoops
and awe stared at its leaves
the size of the melons
that grew in the garden
and we danced
while an insistent summer wind
blew hot air through our hair,
blossoms white and beautiful
showered down from ancient branches
to the soft ground below,
and I smiled over at you
and you smiled back
with your arms in the air,
loose hair tangled
as we danced to the blossom music
no one else heard
but we did that day and haven't heard since.