Creativity is, among many things, a form of alchemy. We start with the base metal, which is the lead of our life experience and the resulting emotions, and through our creative work, we purify that primary material into gold. That elixir seeps out in the form of wisdom, restoration, awareness, consciousness or catharsis. Now, alchemy may seem pseudoscientific on the surface, but actually quite practical. Even if it can't be comfortably quantified. This is perhaps the greatest currency we have as creators. Making things affords us numerous benefits, namely, the ability to own the stories of our lives, rather than being owned by them. And that's not an insignificant achievement. Who cares about getting a promotion, gaining exposure, building your fanbase or making millions of dollars? Those are all nice cherries on top, but there's no guarantee. In fact, the only assurance we can count on when it comes to our creative work is its ability to help us understand our own life better.
CANVASSING -- Using dedicated chunks of creative expression to explore, exhaust and exceed difficult feelings
Next time one of your life experiences leaves you with an unfamiliar, difficult or overwhelming feeling, hold off on your normal coping mechanisms. Let's use that tension as an asset. Before you go for a run, numb out with television, take a nap, smoke a joint, or call your sister to complain about your problem, try sitting down with your instrument of choice. See how long you can tolerate your emotional state. Start expressing the same feeling over and over again. Keep writing or singing or dancing or carving until you've gone through it to the other side and there's nothing left. Then step back from your canvas and check in with your body. Notice if you have become less reactive. See if your emotions have exhausted themselves. Are you still helpless to resolve this personal issue? Or have your feelings passed like the weather patterns that they are? Almost certainly the latter will happen. Because anytime you care enough to feel the discomfort and push through to the other side, your elixir will be waiting. Purification settles in. You will feel lighter, freer, clearer, stronger, whatever. And who knows? You might have even created some art worth sharing with the world. How could you own the stories of your lives, rather than being owned by them?
Palahniuk, the bestselling author of many works of transgressional fiction, says in his memoir how he uses writing as a way to explore the unresolved and threatening aspects of his life. Each day his creativity helps him harness that chattering, problem solving little voice in his head, and a strange sense of peace takes over his life. That's alchemy. Turning base metal into gold.
The cash value of the canvassing process is not only cheaper than whiskey, it's priceless. If you have never used your creative powers to achieve that kind of result before, start today. How could you alchemize your base metal feelings into gold?
Increase your frustration tolerance
Save tens of thousands of dollars a year on therapy
Own the stories of your life, rather than being owned but hem
Navigate stressful and traumatic experiences with greater calm
Unlock bloody, authentic creative expression that impacts audiences