Leading a creative life is not about outcomes. Leading a creative life is about the moments we spend in flow, moments that cannot be captured.
My creative life has taken many guises over the years and although certain amounts of autonomy were apparent as a youngster, my creative life began as a young adult.
Revealing the tools in my Creative Life Toolbox is the result of a recent exploration into decision making and identifying memorable milestones. It’s a helluva lot easier to join the dots looking backwards!
When pulling apart pieces of my experience to take a closer look I chose large impactful decisions to decipher. Travel for example, my first tool to make meaning for myself. I have travelled a lot. But why? For what reason? And what did I learn?
The person I am today may not be able to really understand my 18-year-old self and come to an accurate conclusion of how a month in Tanzania planted the seed of adventure for years to come. That’s by-the-by, I can’t go back in time so I’ll never know. But I can draw on memories…
Plans started — as they usually do — by replicating ideas from others, like all good artists at the start, I copied.
As a teenager on a family ski trip I saw there were jobs on the mountain “six month ski season, that looks fun, yes please”. My older brother took a gap year in Namibia with Raleigh International… “Africa looks different, I’ll give that a go”. Later in my early 20’s whilst backpacking in Australia, I met a hairdresser who had worked on cruise ships. I’d never met anyone who’d even been on a cruise ship, let alone work on one. Not a holiday choice of mine but as a 23-year-old keen on travel, yes please!
Travel has always been an interest of mine. Diving into new experiences and satisfying the curious critter within me.
By that point I’d been to art college and chosen photography to pursue at university. Along side playing uni rugby and club hockey at the weekends, it seemed I always had a broad mix of interests and didn’t tend to focus much on one thing.
Photography wasn’t a conscious choice but with art and adventure in mind but it worked out wonderfully, allowing me to travel and work. I only wish I could give myself credit for thinking ahead and making a good choice. I wasn’t that aware.
Photography was the perfect addition to my toolkit in order to craft a creative life. Not only a skill to work and earn some pennies to fund the travel but a way to express myself, experiment and be creative. In hindsight, as a gemini generalist, I needed that balance of art and adventure. Not a particularly mindful decision at the time, I just followed my nose & my gut, and did what I wanted to do.
Talking about balance, this toolbox is coming along nicely. A love of travel and a skill to aid that exploration. What about my character and the drive within me?
The curiosity to experience new things, spread my wings and be open to what that brings, is the third addition to my toolbox. A trait that I may have taken for granted until I really understood what it has brought into my life.
“Curiosity is recognising a gap in our knowledge about something that interests us, and becoming emotionally and cognitively invested in closing that gap through exploration and learning. Curiosity often starts with interest and can range from mild curiosity to passionate investigation.” - Brené Brown, Atlas of The Heart.
Knowing what I know now for example, it’s no surprise that when travelling in recent years I spent many hours researching colour symbolism in the countries I visited. Clothes, pattern and national flags…why Thai people wear certain colours on certain days and why Japanese kimonos are designed as they are.
These explorations added meaning to my being there, added texture to the immersive experience and made those times more memorable.
When I think of travel and far off places I think of bold saturated colour. Sunshine bouncing off colourful murals, deep blue skies in contrast with painted yellow walls, lush green trees with dazzling orange fruit — all made brighter by the strength of the sun.
My love of travel correlates to my love of colour, my interest in new experiences and my need to create.
The web of skills, opportunities and curiosity that combine to create elements of my creative life is a magic mixology for my own consumption.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” - Steve Jobs
With a couple of dots identified from my past there is no guarantee they will serve me in the future. Will my need to travel stay put or has that itch been scratched?
Will capturing colour and creating scenes with my camera continue to provide a satisfaction? I don’t know.
I do hope I stay curious enough to find out.
Taken by me. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 2018