Does it also lead to deep appreciation and gratitude for the beautiful, simple things in life?
I’ve wondered, on more than one occasion, why I have remained in financial difficulty over the last few years. I mean, I am not destitute, or living on the streets,though if it weren’t for my amazing friends and family, and my credit cards, that may well have become the situation. But the thought popped into my head today, that if money were no problem, then perhaps I wouldn’t be quite so creative. That if money was plentiful and my bank accounts all very healthy, I perhaps wouldn’t be able to empathise and connect with those who have very little, and be able to help them.
I said to my partner last night – “I sometimes feel like my career is taking a while to really take off, to make sure that I learn to remain humble.”
I also think, that the struggle, the desperation, the rough times – all become the perfect material for creating stories and objects that will help and inspire others.
None of this means that I wish to be poor for the rest of my life, but it does seem to be that the ‘starving artist’ mentality may have its roots in the idea that poverty forces you to be more creative with what time, resources and money you have. If your budget is tight, you don’t go out and buy everything brand new for a project. You are more likely to recycle, salvage, and think outside the box. So in fact, having less money is promoting eco-friendly ways of being, too.
I do think that extreme poverty, to the point where you are living in scarcity and are unable to think of anything other than surviving the day, limits creativity, as it seems like a luxury to be creative in those situations. But when you are able to survive, but have a limited budget for things you want to do, I do think you become more creative within those limitations.
I have experienced this in my own life, where I have wanted to do something, but not had much money to spend, I find that I become more creative, and though it may take more of my time, there is something infinitely more magical about the end result. For example, when I did the Harry Potter theme parties, for myself and my friends, there were so many things I could have bought online. So much available merchandise, if I’d had a big budget. But I didn’t. I was trying to do the parties on no budget at all. So instead of buying chocolate frogs, I found a template online, printed it onto card, made the boxes, and then bought a frog mold, and melted bars of chocolate. Instead of buying a sorting hat, I dug out my leather from my notebook making days, and hand-stitched a hat myself. For the house points, I got four pop bottles, turned them upside down and screwed the lids onto a plinth made by my partner. If I’d had a budget, I would probably have bought it all, instead of making it myself. And I think it was the Weasley nature of the decorations that made the parties magical. I also appreciated it all so much more, because I knew how much time I had put into it!
I also mentioned gratitude and appreciation, because I truly feel that until you have experienced the feeling of having nothing, or of going through some very dark times, it’s difficult to truly appreciate and feel gratitude for what you have, and for the simple things. I watched a clip from Oprah’s latest Super Soul Sunday, and she was interviewing Amy Purdy. who is such an inspiring woman. She died on an operating table when she contracted meningitis. She said that when she crossed over, and was told she could stay on Earth if she wanted, she thought about all the things she loved about living, and they were things like – the smell of rain, and the sound of ocean waves.
She decided to stay, and now, every day, she experiences deep and true appreciation for the simple things in her life, like her coffee in the morning, and walking in nature.
It seems that adversity that comes from illness, injuries, disability or near death experiences also inspires a deep creativity, and appreciation. Amy wanted to snowboard again, despite having had both legs removed, because it was her passion. But there weren’t prosthetic legs that were appropriate, so she created them.
How many of us just trudge through life, without stopping to create something new, without looking at things from a different angle, without pushing the boundaries in order to fulfil our mission and purpose and doing whatever it takes to follow our passions? Do we really need poverty, illness and adversity to wake us up and inspire us to truly shine?
What are your thoughts?