Like everyone else’s these days, my life is crazy. I’m always running—to work, for family, from one errand to another—trying to fit everything in. So last spring, when my sister-in-law invited me out to paint with her one weekend, I jumped at the opportunity to take time out and be creative for a little while. I’ve always been a lover of art, and I’ve always tried to be colorful and creative in my life, but I hadn’t painted a picture since middle school. I wasn’t sure if I would be all that great at it, but when I got there, I ordered a drink and sat down, ready to get my hands dirty. The music was fun and upbeat, the instructors were patient and encouraging, the bartenders were quick and generous, and I was hooked on the paint and sip industry, immediately. Right away, I wanted to be part of it. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t even know something is missing from your life until you find it.
I had another experience, just a few months later. I was in Lascaux, France. In college, I took art, art appreciation, and art history classes. I remembered studying Lascaux and the primitive cave paintings there, and when my husband and I traveled to France last summer, I wanted to see these paintings. They had been discovered back in the 1940’s by a bunch of teenagers messing around in the woods. They found this cave by accident, and when they explored it, they found these amazing prehistoric paintings on the walls. They were paintings of horses and men and primitive life before we had written words to describe our experiences. When I looked at these paintings, it struck me how much we need to process and depict the mysteries, the questions, and the magic around us. We have to tell our stories. Bob Dylan just received the Nobel Prize for doing this through his music, others do it through their writing, and sometimes when there are no words to represent what we feel, we tell our stories through art.
Tony Gillam in his study “Creativity and Mental Health Care” explains what many noted thinkers have always understood, “creativity is not merely useful or desirable, but necessary for mental health: Just as the health of the body demands that we breath properly, so, whether you like it or not, the health of the mind requires that we be creative.” But so many of us work in jobs or live lives that restrict our creativity. The world today makes many demands on us. Demands of our time and demands of our spirit. How can people meet those demands, yet still satisfy their need to be creative?
We need a place to regroup, to reconnect with family and friends, to reconnect with the creative side of ourselves that so many of us leave behind with our childhoods. People need a place where they can relax, laugh with loved ones, enjoy a drink or two; a place that nurtures the spirit, soothes the senses, encourages the adventurous, and allows for creative collaboration with others. Life shouldn’t be only about obligations, deadlines, and expectations. It should be about fun and friends and family and the stories that spring from those encounters.