In 2006 I took a creativity workshop at my local recreation centre. I did not want to take this class but did so because I had a credit at the centre that was about to expire. It was either take a course before year end or lose the money. I signed up for the course simply because it fit my schedule. I came to the first session with a bad attitude. I was annoyed since I really didn’t want to be there and wished the centre policy allowed for a cash refund. I am ashamed to say I took my frustration out on the instructor, a lovely woman with a bright smile who announced we’d be decorating masks that day. I told her I did not want to paint a mask. She offered me other activities to do while the rest of the students worked on their projects. I declined them all, sat with a frown on my face and my arms crossed, then left class early.
As I walked into my home, guilt hit me. I acted like a jerk towards the instructor (who stayed wonderful and positive despite me being less than polite). I told myself that next week I was going to apologize and do better. Determined that I would act like I was brought up properly, I participated in the subsequent lessons and worked on the projects without complaint. I still thought the exercises were silly but I did them anyway. Then a funny thing happened around day 4. In the middle of one of the projects I realized something in me shifted. My mind was not thinking of my to do list, there was no anxiety in my being. I was just present in that classroom, content, totally in the zone, and at that very moment did not want to be anywhere else.
Curious about my discovery, I finished the 8 week course then stayed in contact with the instructor and took more of her classes. I also started taking other creative classes from other instructors at the rec centre: a painting workshop, improv, a photography course, creative writing, voice lessons, etc. Taking these lessons were a way for me to come back to that presence of being and state of peace. And that state of peace and flow for me was reached while in the midst of a creative endeavour and space.
As I continued participating in these workshops, I started to recall similar moments of creative flow in my childhood. In gradeschool I would hold my lunch hour storytelling club where I would tell a story I made up (usually a horror story) to a small group of classmates. I drew comics (usually about child superheroes wearing kimonos and skipping school to fight bad guys). I spent many blissful moments bringing my imaginings to life on paper. Through my creative practice and a bit of talent, I won art contests with prizes like furniture and luxury hotel stays, and got a newspaper feature at 10 years old. I even secured a guest spot on a TV show for my drawing ability. And then things changed and I did a 180 turnabout at the age of eleven.
After I moved to Canada 12 years later, it was a new start and so my old friend creativity resurfaced again and came for a visit, convincing me things will be different this time ‘round. I picked up my pencil and created a new comic strip that was featured in a couple ethnic papers and magazine. But being young, new to the country and naive, I was taken advantage of. Editors and supervisors did not pay me the money I was owed and did not publish the comic in sequence. Not yet having developed much confidence and self-worth, I turned my back on art once more. I was angry creativity showed itself again to shake things up. I returned to earning my living with “normal” jobs like retail and office work for a long time.
Author: MTM Hobbes
Creating art and working on creative projects is my way making sense of life experiences and my environment. I believe that the practice of art helps a person become more of who they are meant to be.