Inside each one of us is a restless soul trying to find purpose. This is how it has always been, and hopefully, this is how it always will be. I believe this to be true for males, females, adults, and children alike. Unrest such as this is not necessarily destructive, unless it is ignored.
One of my favorite books that validates living a creative life is by Steven Pressfield, called “The War of Art”. It includes inspirational quotes and motivational kicks-in-the-pants to those of us treading water and fighting our instinct to create. Pressfield has the audacity to blast those who do not fulfill their creative purpose in life, those who battle their fire within. That fire can turn into envy, judgement, and destruction.
He mentions art can come in many forms, and one form is putting pen to paper. Of course, I am attached to this idea. I have recently come to embrace writing and all of the cultural responsibility that comes with it. To me, writing is rebellion.
I used to be a pretty envious, stagnant person. It’s clear to me now that my negative unrest was caused by my inability to let my creative instincts take over. Living like a creative was, in my mind, the job of lead singers and ruthless rebels.
I was jealous of those who dyed their hair, adorned themselves in tattoos, and pierced something visible. How brazen and bold these individuals were, so confident in their rebellion that they wore it for all to see. They absolutely owned their own form of art.
And they were some of my best friends. I ached for a way to let out my restlessness the way they did, but I needed it to be my own. I wanted to put noise where the silence was. I wanted to feel the walls shake.
For some time, my creative outlet was taken over by having children. Bringing babies into the world is its own sort of rebellion. Not only are you thrusting this creation out into society, but you are also ensuring that this organic creation will find room to take over, to make his or her own art. While busy changing diapers, obsessing over their futures, and trying to keep a career going, I was too distracted to focus on my own unrest.
That’s over now. They are blazing their own trails, acknowledging their own creative calls, and here I am, in the post baby years, trying to embrace this new rebellious hunger.
My friends and I are pretty straight-laced, responsible children and parents. I’ve never felt like I have the luxury of creative mistakes on my own body. I wanted a piercing, but where? I wanted a tattoo, but what? I’m a Gemini. My interests ebb and flow too much for me to land on an idea and always hold my head up proudly at my decision.
No, my rebellion wouldn’t settle on anything for that long. I’m a 30-something, still hesitant about upsetting my mom who gave me my skin. I’m a public school teacher and a mother, so some of my favorite t-shirts with expletives won’t do right now.
Finally, I’m usually too locked into my pacifist thoughts to verbalize aggressive feelings on the spot. Although I love talking to people, I’m an introverted extrovert, afraid that my verbalized opinions will come off as wrong or offensive. These feelings left me creatively stuck for a bit.
And then it happened. Almost all at once, in my late 30s, I started writing again. It wasn’t until I began composing pieces that I started to feel my hunger quelled. It was passive enough for me to feel okay about it, yet aggressive enough because I’d have to feel – really FEEL – publicly.
Now, when I put something out into the world, I have to stand behind it. And I have to do so responsibly, and know that others may read it.
Steven Pressfield writes that a little bit of nervousness is important. It reminds us we are awake and alive. Every time I post something, submit it to a magazine, or add to my novel, I rebel against the silence. I shake the middle-aged-cage that challenges art. I’m feverishly begging for the mayhem to continue.
Writing is the perfect rebellion. It is cyclical. It is ever-changing. It is infinite. It is artistic expression perfect for someone like me, who needs it to be a little different each time. Because, like everything that lives, writing evolves with us. It returns like the tide. It is predictable, but what comes out isn’t.
So my message to you is: find your rebellion. Acknowledge your need to create and put art into this world. Get the tattoo. Find that piercing. Build something. Craft a letter. Teach someone something. Express yourself verbally. Create your art. We need it.
Those who acknowledge their hunger make this world a kaleidoscope of excitement. And if nothing seems to fit, and you need to let out your inner extrovert, give writing a chance. It’s the perfect paradox of old and new, passive and bold, constant and changing.
Writing is rebellion.