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Poetics: Creativity And Inspiration

by Sally Eslinger

Creativity is a process.  Inspiration is a mystery seeking a creative process for its completion.  
    I believe these statements apply no matter the genre or discipline —from all the arts and sciences to the spiritual search for God, and for obedient, well-directed actions regarding Mother Nature.  Poets, artists, musicians, dancers, researchers, doctors, teachers, engineers, social workers, parents, and activists: all seek inspiration to help find an effective process of creative working.
     Aptitude is a most important contributing factor to the harvests of our individual creative efforts: has this poem or painting successfully communicated its intent, meanings, feelings, and impact to its intended audience?  How well were we able to realize these same things as we worked through a creative thrust to a satisfying result?
     There is, I think, no concrete, scientific proof that people are “born” poets, artists, athletes, musicians, or leaders.  With certain talents, capabilities, and inclinations, some people may be called “naturals.”  Here, however, I choose to speak about poets and poetry, and visual artists.  I cannot speak for other vocations, but I believe being a poet and an artist involve more than having innate talent.  Any amount of talent is useless without a well -fostered attitude and practice of perceiving — as opposed to merely seeing.   Perception encompasses not only seeing what is right in front of us but also, seeing with circumspection; this would include hindsight of personal history and insight from growing wisdom held within our souls.  There is also the appreciation of the subjects we perceive: from placement to tones, contrasts, atmospheres, imparted essences, social import, and historical treatment of techniques and approaches to similar themes.
     Two years ago I fell into a 7-day coma.  I came out of it with Charles Bonnet syndrome, a condition which, in short, leaves empty certain areas in the visuals sent from the eyes to the brain.  The brain, unable to process incomplete designs, comes up with its own spacial fillers — most often quite fantastic ones.
     Perception, then, involves personal taste and style preferences.  It also uses, among yet other characteristics, the physical and the spiritual conditions we carry.
     God is the Creator.  God is Mystery.  God may well be the Source of all the inspiration we hope for as catalysts for our own life efforts at creativity.
     Next, how is success attained in the creative processes?  I might note that the definition of “success” here is not only per the individual, but likely to change as the years pass, and more likely with the goal of each accomplished project now in hand.   As in all areas of life, it is anti-productive to allow society or others to define “success” for us.    Any civilization,  according to Charles Murray in his book “Human Accomplishment,” needs definitive, cultural goals of excellence in order to remain viable unto itself and, it follows, for its people to be fully productive in their individual striving.
     As I see it, the first step to creative success is to find the appropriate maps.  Next, to circle the desired destinations.  Then, mark ALL  the possible routes.  It is important to follow that with gathering background information, social support, getting plans and backup plans of action, and resolving to persevere beyond the obstacles (including ourselves).
     Thus ready... Go!  Speed will vary.  Be prepared for detours, circles, and do-overs.  It is possible to get lost simply trying to recount the journey, the scope of which may cover, possibly, a lifetime.
     In the Bible, “success” indicates the giving of graces of aid from God.  It does not imply a filled safe-deposit box that’s ours for the finding.  
    Spiritual seeking is perhaps the most involved and expansive of all human endeavors to be undertaken: filled with signs, study, trials, questions, entreaties, fellowship, joys...and hopefully at last with a personal interaction with God...sometimes, blessedly, within the anointed graces of mystical experience, which I believe may be found next door to the address of poetry.
      So, creativity is a process, begun, and concluded — one way or another.  There  may be uncountable hours of practice...and countless journaling tours to and within the collective unconscious
     Inspiration, however, is a mystery...not found with maps, mentors, research, or desires.   For us, the inspiration remains possible for all, yet undefined by time or tools, distances, or subjects.  Also, it stays undefined by consequences, by measures or scales, pretty much outside of age and intelligence ...but gratefully welcome.
     Inspiration comes like an inner sunrise, and. for all our science,  it remains a mystery.  We long for it.  We seek its source.  We pray for it to touch us and, I think, we would gladly share it if only we could.  Inspiration comes as a living spark to be captured as suddenly as it appears, perhaps only to be accepted as the anonymous gift it is...received thankfully and without question, without hesitation.
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  SYE 5/8/20