Coming Alive

Don't ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask youself what makes you come alive, and then go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
~Harold Thurman Whitman
Each time I come across these words, I feel an electric shock run down my spine.     
They remind me that the world, myself included sometimes, is filled with people going through the motions of their days, finding no joy, no deep indwelling sense of satisfaction or accomplishment, nothing that created the feeling of life abundantly lived.  So these words prod and poke me, nudge me to search for the things that generate a creative spark in my soul.
They confronted me this morning when I opened my copy of Foolsgold, by Susan G. Woolridge (author of Poemcrazy).  Another day in my office beckons, a day of paper shuffling and organizing, a day of sifting through piles of medical records and information.  Nothing about the prospect of this day makes me come alive.

But I recognize that I'm luckier than most~I've achieved half the battle to follow that credo.  I, at least, have found the things that make me come alive.

Certainly, writing is one of them.

Foolsgold promises to help me "find the artist within by cultivating a creative lifestyle that will not only expand and inspire you, but may also ground and heal you."  A "creative lifestyle" is what interests me here.  In the past months, as I've come to realize how much writing means to me, I've allowed it to play a bigger role in my inner life.  Yet I keep it tucked in the cupboard of my lifestyle, afraid to let it play in the daylight hours, only taking it out when I've completed all the other, less livening activities. 

Perhaps in order to start living that "fully alive" life the world needs, I must allow creativity to permeate my entire lifestyle, not just those few "off hours" when the regular work is done.

What does that mean in practical terms? I'm not sure. It could mean branching out in my writing activities, going "beyond the blog" and taking a creative writing class or reading a poem on poetry night at my local coffee house.  Maybe it means looking for other avenues of musical expression - learning a new instrument or joining a new group.  Perhaps it could be taking up a new activity entirely - working with paper crafts or collage.  I'm quite sure it means taking another step outside the safe little box I've erected around my current creative efforts.

"Coming alive" also means "paying attention," being aware of those things that startle you with their beauty or meaning.  Sometimes they're as simple as the wind rushing through the trees in your own backyard, or as complex as a perfectly crafted poem by Keats or the intricate movement of a fugue by Bach.  It means being aware and being reverent to the world around us, and, for those of us who write, attempting to convey that sense of wonder to our readers.
It will be a journey, this "coming alive" process.

I'll keep you posted.

How about you? How do you cultivate creativity in your life?  Have you found the things that make you come alive? Are you doing them? Shouldn't you be?
*wordpress is being very creative (and stubborn!) with the fonts in this post...enjoy the variety, because there seems to be nothing I can do about it!