Creativity Is Like Pandora’s Box

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”

Pablo Picasso

Pandora’s box floating in black acid in Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life

It was when I once again tried to find something about what happens when you’re highly creative, and how you can learn to control it or dampen it.
How to make creativity go away, even.
Just hypothetically, it was a question that interested me.
Although I was aware even the thought was ungrateful towards my creativity, my art, my purpose.

Just like speaking about how “it” haunted me down each day. And how times when I had experienced peace and serenity, were the days I managed to stay from its claws.
That was ungrateful too.

I hoped one day I would take my responsibility for my part in our relationship. That I would be able to show up as a pair: “This is my significant other. His name is Art and we’ve been together since 2006.”
And that I would not feel the need to add: “In good and bad times.”
Art too, would just smile and be nice. And we’d have a harmonious relationship, not just for the outside world, but also in the way we lived together.

I hoped that day would come, but it was not yesterday when I tried to find YouTube videos or articles with Google, how to be relieved from the presence of art.
Or how to soften its destructive slipstream that had the power to derail  friendships, and break your self-esteem.

That the slipstream of art had the power to destroy you, was a consequence the internet did not seem to know of.
Least of all the creators of YouTube videos that promised you unstoppable creativity. Or the authors of articles on daily habits that nourished your creative inspiration, and coached you through getting through a tough, uninspired time.

Their Art seemed to be scared away if you breathed to loudly.
Instead of a thing that chased them down, and sunk its teeth in them and sucked them dry.
Their Art did not do that.

There were three thoughts that came up, seeing these people summoning their creativity with an optimism that I had never experienced.
And the thoughts were kind of related.

The first one was of course:
“Be careful what you wish for.”
I don’t think you have the slightest clue of what you are trying to summon into your life. And even less of a clue of how to deal with it.
My guess is no preparations have been made, to accommodate this beast.  

And the second thought was:
“I sincerely doubt it can be set free, or unleashed, by your tips.”

And the third thought was:
“Which is probably a good thing.”

Complaining about lack of inspiration, and being proud of yourself for showing up for your work on discipline and willpower alone, seemed from my perspective preferable to having unstoppable creativity.

In particular because I, personally, would absolutely not show up for my art, for my creativity, on discipline or willpower.
If I woke up and art was gone?
I would throw myself headfirst in some sort of all consuming job that would prohibit art from ever coming back in!

Like opening an animal sanctuary or something.

I would make sure it was something with a lot of responsibility towards people or animals. Because I would not be able to fight art off by myself, if it changed its mind and came back.
But if lives were at stake I would.

So to me, those people struggling to create art?
I don’t understand them.
And why you would want to be unstoppable in your creativity, baffled me even more.

Once again, I was left to my own devices figuring out my problem with too much creativity.

How did I get from “this”, from “here”, from feeling like I didn’t control my life and that it was run through me, but not in a God And The Angels From Heaven kind of way;
To “that”, “there”, and having a mature relationship with art where we were equals.

How did I not just stop blaming Art for not taking my needs into consideration;
But also be clear on how we could work together, what I was going to do for him, and paint the picture of how we would make wonderful things together.
But that we needed to have some boundaries in place.

How?

What ultimately helped me, was an analogy used in the movie Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life. They use the story of Pandora’s Box, and give their own interpretation to what’s inside of it.
They say what was left in Pandora’s box was anti-life; Ramante.
The plagues, the destruction, that were the natural companion of the creation of life.

The aftermath of my creativity, the slipstream of it that could swallow anything in its way?
The chaotic energy surrounding me, on days my had projects soared? 

They were Ramante.

As I created, Ramante uncreated.
Ramante undid.
Ramante destroyed.

And suddenly I saw how the force of this creative push, which robbed me of my ability to really connect to other people;
How my creative fire that seemed to physically poison me;
And how the emptiness, and the pain after creation, the darkness and the restlessness of insecurity if you have done right, if it was good enough;
All resembled how I am with a man.

How, if Art was a man I was in love with, the insecurity, the one-on-one playtime, and the devastating loneliness the day after, would all have been exactly the same.

And in comparing Art to my love life, I also saw how to go about it.

After a night with a man, the pain is so strong and unbearable, that you think the only way to ease it, is to hear from him:
“It’s okay, I love you too.”
Or a text message: “I miss you too.”
Or even: “How about we drop this whole playing hard to get, and you move in with me this afternoon?”

Similarly to the craving for connection with a lover the day after, I have always felt the desire to create again after creating.
To create even more.

The reason I am so prolific (I work on multiple media, and under multiple names) is because creating something new is the only thing that makes the pain go away.

After sex with a man, I know the only thing that will help, is more of him. Another night, another day, or an entire life together.
But I have taught myself to resist that.

I have taught myself NOT to call, not to be needy, and in all honesty, I often ease that pain by writing.
And it works.
As the Ramante of our night together does its destructive work of pulling me into loneliness and despair, I team up with Art behind my desk.
We have a beer, some Japanese balls (pretzels) and commence writing. We are a real team.
Art really has my back, and we create a beautiful story from what happened.
Until the day after that, when the second wave of Ramante comes.

A second wave of loneliness, disconnect.
And by now there is no way of telling if this destructive aftermath is from the night with the lover, of from creating the art.

Or, most likely, both.

All you know is that the only thing that helps, is to create new art. That the act of creation will take away the pain. 

But I m going to break that habit of automatically going for the art, creating new things, when Ramante comes.
Let it rest. Sink in.
Integrate the pain, however uncomfortable it may be.

What I have done with men, and which has allowed me to take more emotional risks, and be in relationships most people would not be able to sustain;
I must also do with Art;
To NOT treat it as an everyday thing, you can just be in day after day after day. That you need something different, to ease the pain afterwards. And I don’t know what that is yet!
But that you, or I, can’t keep reaching for the same thing.

Just like I do not want to be the sobbing, or accusatory lover who loses her shit the next day, and blames the man for taking advantage of her;
I do not want to be the one blaming art for the devastating Ramante, destruction, that always takes my breath away and causes havoc in the days after creation.
It’s not his fault, or its fault.

You can’t have the highs without the lows.
You can’t create a beautiful sexual encounter, or a work of art, without suffering the Ramante, the destruction that follows in its steps.
But what you can do, is stop being reactive when dealing with it.

What you can also do, is to stop wishing for unstoppable creativity.

In Tomb Raider, Lara Croft prohibits the box from being opened, and lets it sink back into the vulcano.
She gives the key, the legend, to the tribe that guards the mountain, the Cradle of Life, where the box is buried.
And she says:
“Some things are not meant to be found.”


Suzanne L. Beenackers

s_beenackers@hotmail.com
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At 3:30 Lara Croft explains all about Pandora’s Box;

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