My (R)evolution, part 1.

That rug is just a metaphor, because I live in a place that isn’t really fit for rugs. In the tropics, we don’t have rugs. Door mats maybe, but no rugs.

Since 2005 I call Little Corn Island my home base. It’s a tiny tropical island off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Turquoise seas, white sandy beaches, waving palm trees, my own little yoga and massage studio set in a lush garden right next to my tiny but super-comfortable home.

Of course, now you all think I’m living the dream. Well, maybe I was. Until April 19 of this year. Now I’m living in what some of you would more likely call a nightmare. A friend of mine described it as “living on the edge”. Whichever way you want to label it, when the country you’re living in as a foreign entrepeneur throws itself into a revolution, you cannot help but feel as if the rug got pulled out from underneath your feet.

From one day to the next the Nicaragua people woke up from peacefully dozing to fiercely demanding that the president and his wife step down. In a month’s time more than 70 people have found their death and hundreds have been injured in riots caused by police violence and looting. Road blocks are disabling proper transport, due to which many regions (amongst which our little island) are cut off from their regular supplies of food and fuel.

 

Kickstarting our creativity

Let’s start with a little game. You can do this wherever you are. Grab your handbag or empty your pockets, or open the nearest drawer and randomly choose 3 objects. Doesn’t matter what.

Now figure out as many ways as possible to place these objects together on the nearest surface (yes this could be the floor of the subway, or your own hand). How many ways did you find? One, three,10, 27? We’ve just been kickstarting our creativity!

People so often say: “I am not creative”. Have they forgotten how they built castles out of two cardboard boxes when they were kids, how a stick could become a sword, mud a beautiful pie with little pebbles making the tufts of cream?

Somehow, the adult world has created (pun intended) this false belief that creativity can only be called that if it produces masterpieces and if it sells well. Otherwise, it’s considered dabbling, amateurism and mostly mediocre.

Nobody wants to be seen as mediocre. So we stop being creative. We put our creativity on a shelf, or worse, hidden in a dark corner of a basement or attic. Out of sight, out of mind.

The sad part is, that creativity needs to be used, to be activated, to allow it to come to its full expression. It’s like a muscle that needs to practice to become strong. If we don’t use our creativity muscle it will atrophy and become useless.

That’s why it is so easy to say that we are not creative. Once we have stored our creativity in a dark corner of our being, it does not get activated at all. It atrophies into a mere shadow of itself. We forget about its existence.

The good news is, that we can never totally deplete creativity.

Once we’ll take it off the shelf, reactivate it and start to practice that creative muscle, it will slowly grow in strength again, and our creativity will start to flow with more ease every time we use it.

Instead of trying to produce masterpieces, all we need to do is let our creativity practice its muscle, on play. Play with colours and shapes, with words, objects, ingredients, sounds, thoughts, options, solutions.

We cannot force the creation of something new by the intellect. But when we give our creative mind something to play with, eventually it will shape it into a new creation.

“The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”                ~ Stephen Nachmanovitch.

Where was I? Or better, where were you? Oh, right: still on my neighbour’s back porch, recovering from another attack. Crazy cat. 

Every once in a while there will be a vet coming to the island, so when that was the case, they tried to get you fixed. But my neighbours totally underestimated your opposition to being put in a carrier, so ten steps on their way to the vet you were out and away. Good for you!

Pumpkins the cat that changed his mindNext time they asked my help, and together we got you into a cage, and to the vet. It was amazing to see how you relaxed into the idea of sitting in a cage for hours inside an unknown space full of strangers and dogs, waiting your turn. You just went to sleep. You really seem to know when to surrender, don’t you? (you should write a book about it, make it into a workshop, it will sell very well). When it finally was your turn, the vet sedated you through the slits in the side of the cage, to prevent you from attacking her. Once you were out, you looked so harmless and sweet. But lo and behold: you had never been operated in your life, but you had no balls. Well, you have balls for sure, but no testicles in your little ball-sacks. They had never dropped in. So you didn’t get fixed. All that trouble for nothing. You were of course very pleased with yourself, I assume.

A few months later, time was coming for my neighbours to leave the island again. Their house would be occupied by a watchman, and he was ordered to feed you and give you fresh water every day on that back porch. They left a big sack of cat food, which should be enough for the time they were gone. You were in good shape by then, with only some minor scratches now and then, but no gaping holes, festering puncture wounds or other parts missing. You were basically living your independent cat life, apart from that bowl of kibble every day. I was only asked to report back on you every now and then, nothing else. 

The night before their departure, you disappeared, like most house cats would do. It’s that old trick of making us humans extra worried, so that we feel guilty about leaving you behind, even though there is not one hair in your fur that wishes to travel with us.

So as expected, they worried, came over and asked me to keep an eye out for you and let them know if I found you, if you were alright, etc. So suddenly I had cat duties……

 

If you want to read episodes 1-5 of Pumpkins’ story, click here.