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I originally wrote this essay months ago. I’ve put off editing and publishing it since. Honestly, I still don’t feel ready, but I’m afraid that if I don’t write it now I might lose it. And I’ve recently been reminded how our Thanksgiving holiday brings issues of guilt and shame to the surface.
So I’m going to give this my best attempt. It’s also much longer than most of my entries. I think it all matters. I think it’s all part of a big, complex system that’s worth examining in its many parts. And I’m sorry I can’t do a better job of finding the most perfect and precise ways to communicate the vital messages. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. But if you give it the fifteen minutes it will take you to read, my hope is you’ll find these ideas to be as significant as I have. So … on to the question.
How do we come to terms with the fact of our bodies? Not facts about our bodies, but the fact of the body itself—that we not only have but are a body, that we exist as creatures of flesh and blood and bone and sense and skin. The body is simultaneously our prison and our vehicle to explore the universe, and each belief we have about that body shapes every moment of our lives.
The body is not an easy fact to accept.
Any idea of “perfect” must ultimately be subjective. Sometimes our collective imagination comes up with an oppressive perfect that we, as individuals, feel obligated to hold ourselves in comparison to. But finding our own ideal, even and especially in contradiction of this societal ideal, has great value.
There’s one specific question of “perfect” that I’ve been thinking about lately: What does my perfect day look like? The more I’ve contemplated what that day might look like, the more I realize how deeply revealing the question is. There were some ways that the contents of my “perfect day” took me by surprise, and some ways in which the idealization made me feel, oddly, grateful.
Like many creative types, I struggle with clinical depression. The trick here is that “clinical depression” often means “depression that we’ve tried to medicate.” Many writers, artists, and “non-creative” people struggle with undiagnosed depression, or at least depression that’s manageable enough that they haven’t yet taken a psychiatric route. In talking extensively on this topic with two of my close friends (both of whom are also writers and both of whom suffer from depression), it became apparent to me that this association is painfully common and that there may well be some practical explanations.
The word should really mean any act of creation, but we tend to mean something else when we talk about creativity. For most common uses of the term, creativity typically means an ability to come up with non-obvious ideas and see new connections. Imagination and creativity are intertwined in our conception; they are both ways of thinking between ideas rather than about them. In fact, a functional definition is that creativity is the ability to think expansively.
Copyright © 2017 Rob Blair Writes