Last year, I was listening to Richard Fidler and author Elizabeth Gilbert on the Conversation Hour, and my ears pricked up because of how she spoke about the nature of creativity, and in particular how she talked about the cultivation of curiosity rather than preach a sermon on following your dreams.
Like Gilbert, I’m not a big fan of preaching on passion, not because I’m not passionate, but because I can’t pin myself down to following just one. For years I had seen this as some kind of creative fault; I’ve never neatly fit into a box that could be named. In fact, my alter-egos Pinky & Maurice, came about precisely to give my growing obsession with clay a name. It was clear after a time I had spent away from clay – directing festivals, raising small children, and crocheting plastic fishing line – that an alter-ego obsessed with making porcelain tableware was emerging, and I wasn’t sure what to do with her at the time.
‘We become what we do’. This quote is attributed to everyone from Aristotle to motivational speakers; whoever said it, I don’t find it very helpful. For example, I run. I like to run at least 8 kilometres everyday, but that doesn’t necessarily make me a runner! I don’t want to be a runner, I just like to run. ‘Life isn’t a career’, Jane Campion recently said, and I find that much more helpful.
I love pots, and I make them most days, but I’ve also been known to become completely sidetracked and engrossed by making stuff not only in other materials, but also in entirely new fields. I’m not alone in this. Following your curiosity can open up new creative possibilities and lead you into collaborating with other curious and inspiring makers.
For instance, some days I’ve found myself being a film producer, or an actor playing an evil nurse, or being the Art Department on a short film making exploding chickens with rubber gloves! Sounds strangely fun, yes? You can see the results in the silly Youtube below!
Life isn’t a career, and as Gilbert shares on The Conversation Hour, if we’re open to curiosity, life looks more like a scavenger hunt where we follow a series of clues that spark our interest. These clues might lead to new ideas, they might even propel us toward a passion that we never knew existed. On the other hand, curiosity might take us nowhere, and we may have nothing to show for all our efforts except exploded bits of rubber glove and chicken feathers! However, for Gilbert, devotion to inquisitiveness is a worthwhile pursuit in itself. I tend to agree, and more often than not it’s strangely fun, usually because it feels more like play than work.
If you’re curious about curiosity, even just a little bit, and you’re open to embarking on your own creative adventures, I recommend you listen to Richard Fidler and Elizabeth Gilbert’s conversation here, or read her latest book ‘Big Magic : Creative Living Beyond Fear‘. Who knows, there could be an evil nurse waiting inside you just busting to get out! Or maybe you’ll discover that you like making pots even though you’re a film Producer … and vice versa. 😉
You can see me as Evil Head Nurse ‘Miriam Gooch’ in the silly Youtube below. It features a wonderful cast of hilarious older folks reliving their fictional mate’s escape attempt from a nursing home! All performances are improvised, none of us actors, but all keen for creative adventure.