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The Creative Life

How minimalism frees up the time and space to create

Tree
Photography by Andrew Buchanan

Once my life was free from clutter and meaningless activity, I naturally discovered I had a lot more time on my hands. At last, I had time to explore my creativity in ways I’d never considered before.

A few days ago, I found myself trudging into our patch of woods holding a hand saw. Without their cluttered leaves, I could see the intricate shapes of the saplings rising from the ground. I was looking for one about twelve feet tall with an inch-round trunk and several pretty limbs branching out from its center.

When I found it, I cut it down and dragged it through the woods to our house, through the front door and into our home. The tree was taller than it seemed outdoors, so I cut off another foot and firmly planted it behind our bed frame.

I spent the afternoon making little origami birds to hang from the branches, while my husband—who is almost always amused by my quirky ideas—safely secured the tree to the wall.

I realize that my natural, minimalist aesthetic isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When asked her opinion, my daughter said that it reminded her of the Blair Witch Project, demonstrating that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. In my mind, I’d brought the whimsy of nature indoors. I felt a surge of accomplishment, joy, and creativity.

In his book The Courage to Create, Rollo May wrote, “We express our being by creating. Creativity is a necessary sequel to being.” We were created to create.

Our desire for creativity is seen in the popularity of television programs featuring ordinary people being creative. Watching other people bake cakes, plant gardens, and build tree houses may make good television, but it doesn’t garner the same positive benefits as doing it ourselves.

So what stops us from exploring our creativity? Minimalism rid me of the number one excuse: not enough time. Still, I came up with a few more. Here are my top excuses and what I tell myself in response to them.

  1. I don’t know how. You learn by doing. You’ll figure it out.
  2. I’m not good at it. You create for your own enjoyment. If it turns out great, that’s just a bonus.
  3. I’m not inspired. Go outside. Nature holds all the inspiration you’ll ever need.
  4. I’m lazy. Get up and carpe the heck out of that diem.

Get rid of your excuses. Even if you haven’t made anything since that diorama for your seventh-grade literature class, you are creative. Boldly answer your call to create.

Paint. Dance. Weave. Sing. Bake. Carve. Invent. Cook. Design. Sculpt. Fix. Plant. Decorate. Sew. Draw. Write. Act. Quilt. Build.

Research shows that being creative can reduce stress and anxiety and improve happiness, confidence, focus, problem-solving, authenticity, self-expression, sense of freedom, resilience, open-mindedness, risk-taking, decision-making, and mental clarity.

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