Crafting Your Life Into a Work of Art presents the byline and focus of Erwin McManus' book addressing humans as created beings. His starting point, a theological commitment to God as creator, resonates with my fascination with creativity specifically that people create, are creative, and must express themselves. Our creativity contributes to wildly various forms and genres. And yet - somehow along the way some lose a sense of their creativity. This loss manifests itself through expressions like "I'm not creative" or "I wish I were creative like that" or "I don't have a creative bone in my body." In McManus' words, creativity is that which makes us uniquely human.
The question asked: "What if the creative act is not an act against nature but an expression of our nature?" (p. 9) moves us toward a reframing of notions around our creative capacity. Too often, creativity is assigned to a nebulously identified 'creative class.' My question: who are those people? Admittedly, I'm guilty - I'm not an artist, I'm not creative, I'm not gifted....like that. Notice the vagueness of 'that.' Where does this negative inner voice come from? Do you hear it in your head?
McManus reminds us of the nature of art, creativity, and imagination (direct ""):
- Art exists to remind us that we have a soul, the essence of being human, transcendent (p. 14).
- Creativity is the natural result of spirituality (p. 17).
- The only art we can create is that which authentically reflects who we are. . . . every true artist fights for their creativity (pp. 18, 33).
- The role of the artist is partly to interpret the human story. . . . to be an interpreter of human possibility (p. 76).
- The soul feeds on the imagination. . . . imagination always precedes creativity (p. 101).
- All art has an underlying narrative for which it advocates; all art is a declaration of meaning or the lack of it; all art is created both for self expression and for the extension of self (p. 106).
- Design thinking: the process is informed less by the product than by the people it serves. . . . what matters is how what we create affects and serves humanity (p. 111).
- Art has in its universe words like creativity, inspiration, beauty, and imagination, but in that same universe are words like perseverance, resilience, tenacity, and discipline (p. 140).
At the end of McManus' book, he provided a series of practices to foster soul work; find our voice; change our perspective, materialize dreams, become 'great' at our work; be human and reclaim our humanity; and live fully.
This is one of many books on my reading list for a research project exploring creativity - McManus' contributes to my understanding of God as creator and how that creativity or capacity to create manifests itself in us. Our need to create is essential, a way to create meaning and stories illustrative of who we are, our deepest beliefs, questions, fears, and messages. Creativity is about voice - what needs to be said, what messages are vital. Finally, creativity and the many forms it takes are revelatory of God's essence. In other words, we learn something about Him when we witness, observe, and experience others' creation.
How does our 'work' regardless of what it is contribute to our sense of creativity towards fostering imagination?
How might the prevailing leadership style within an organization influence individual and collective capacities, imagination, courage, risk taking, and innovative possibilities?
What types of spaces contribute to one's sense of possibility, wonder, and imagination?
Once we experience a sense that "I'm not creative" how do we reclaim our essential nature as creative beings?
How do our educational approaches foster creativity, one's sense of and capacity to imagine, design, and create?