Imagine if you were sick and you didn’t know it. You sneeze day after day after day, but you think, “I’ve always been sneezing day after day, it must be normal, it must just be who I am.”
It would be a bit silly, and maybe it would be easy to point out to this person that sneezing so much isn’t normal.
But what if sneezing every day was normal to a lot of people? What if it had become an accepted part of society, something people simply saw as an unfortunate accident that happened to certain people? They figured, “Hey, some people are just born sneezers.” You start sneezing, and they say to themselves, “There goes one of those sneezers.”
This is the life of many creative people. People who are sneezing and huffing their way through life and don’t even realize it.
We live in a world that, no matter how liberal it claims to be, still does not see creativity as what it is: an inner reality that simply needs to be expressed, especially within a certain segment of the population.
No, in our STEM-addled, “Science is God” world, creativity is still seen as a hobby best done during “free time”. Not as an inner-most necessity, a voice that needs to speak to maintain its health, and the most important community-builder (besides religion) in existence.
And so there exists a segment, a large segment, of the population that does not create. It does not create because it was told from a young age to put its “hobby” to the side, and when other more important things come up, to not pursue it at all. Even the ones who understand some of its value will often stop at some point, not seeing how crying onto the paper about the sunset they saw yesterday could possibly be as valuable as balancing a checkbook or cleaning the garage.
The result is sneezing.
Spiritual sneezing, to be clear. Our soul, our brain, and our heart are sneezing.
They say that most artists starve. It’s true, but not for the reason people think.
Most artists starve because they don’t feed themselves what they need to live: time to create. Solid, committed time to allow their heart’s voice to escape from its prison of logic.
The symptoms aren’t sneezing, of course. Often, it comes out as depression. In my case, it comes out as frustration and anger (gosh, my poor wife when I don’t write).
For others, ironically, it escapes as cynicality, turning these sensitive, beautiful potential artists into the worst critics on earth. The type of people that become teachers only to mark up their students’ writing with, “Too creative. Proper grammar is more important than self-expression. Please see me after class for a verbal spanking.” The type of people who turn their art-consuming into a desperate attempt at self-expression, by worshipping certain artistic creators and despising others. Like the religious whose inability to connect to G-d is channeled into severe criticism of others and worship of people-deities, these folks are nothing more than empty shells desperately looking to fill a whole that can be filled in only one way: true, honest self-expression.
And so, not only do artists sneeze, but they spread their sneezing, their sickness.
Julia Cameron calls such artists “blocked artists”.
Our nation suffers from a blocked artist epidemic. And the worst part is that no one knows it.
Nowhere in our society is this more true than among mothers.
Historically, women in general, and mothers in particular, have been valued for their selflessness. It is this inherent, beautiful value in women that both men and women have been so quick to use and abuse. A mother, it is believed even now, should get all her happiness, joy, and fulfillment from her children. There is no such thing as time just for her, because the myth is that time for others is for her.
Even with the rise of the feminist movement, the idea that women should have a career has become simply another convoluted form of arguing that women can only be fulfilled by giving themselves over to others. True, a career is chosen, may even be connected to a woman’s desires for fulfillment. But so is having children.
And thus, the women who most need creativity are often the ones most likely to hide that desire deep, down within. So much so that they put themselves into situations where it is virtually impossible (or seems virtually impossible) to create art.
These creative women spend so much time giving to others that they forget, or don’t even know, that they need times of self-expression, of inner fulfillment, to simply be healthy, happy, and balanced. Not to mention in order to help fulfill their soul’s mission in life.
In other words, these creative mothers who think that they are helping their children by not doing art are, in fact, hurting them. They are making themselves sick, and their inner sneezing is spreading heart-germs on their children. They’re depressed, and they don’t know why. They get angry, and they think it is because of their children. They’re critical, and they think they’re just being “responsible”.
Imagine if you had a pill that could help you with depression, anger, and cynicism, and it had no side-effects. For a creative person, that’s what committed artistic time is. It’s not even a pill, it’s food. It’s air to breathe with.
My wife, Rivka, is starting an organization to help Jewish mothers pay and commit to this health regiment. It’s called Amalia, and it’s amazing. Right now, it’s in the process of raising money with the goal of funding all its members so they can hire a babysitter for 5 hours a week so they can spend time creating. Besides that worthy goal, it is also a community for these creative mothers to connect, encourage, and motivate each other.
It is, in other words, the most aggressive attempt in the Jewish world to heal and fulfill the hearts of mothers. It is one small step in fighting the creative epidemic afflicting our society.
I ask, if you care about this at all, to check out her crowdfunding campaign and to either contribute it or share it. Every $10 you give is an hour of babysitter time for a mother who desperately needs it.
If you are a creative mother who thinks she might be sneezing inside, please go to Amalia’s website and reach out to her or apply.
My wife is a beautiful but quiet world-changer. Holy and contained, she is slowly making Amalia a reality. With your help, it can become more real than even she imagines it can be.