Someone once told me that we all embody three aspects of creative activity: The Creator, The Sustainer, and The Destroyer. Ideally, these are in balance, and we move easily through the cycles as things pass away and come into existence, and go through their life cycle. These aspects are present in the very short-term. A day, for example, goes through the fullness of a cycle in only 24 hours. Consider how a meal comes into being: we have the seed of an idea, perhaps based on a craving, or whether or not we will be eating alone or with others, entertaining one person, or twelve. We plan the menu, shop for ingredients, prepare it, eat it. The destruction, in this case, is obvious: the dirty dishes, piles of pots and pans, perhaps now the smell of coffee or quiet conversation. The slightly chaotic evidence of the full cycle of creative process. Of course the destruction always brings with it another creative process, but there seems to be a gap between one creative cycle and another.
This gap is terrifying to me. My friend who talked about these three parts of creation pointed out my discomfort for The Destroyer aspect of myself. Well… Duh. The destroyer ENDS. I mean, DESTRUCTION? How can that be good? I am quite fond of The Creator, and The Sustainer. The Creator seems to me a radical, sassy, puckish girl who will try anything. She’s fun, loves to include everyone, is curious and free. The Sustainer is a little older, a little wiser, and knows the value of caring for things, for people. She’s kind, and a little maternal, like she’ll be very tenacious when caring for her own. But The Destroyer? Wow, she’s a mean one. And apparently always ready to ruin a good time. Who wants her around? She’s the one who will always say no. But my friend seems to be saying I shouldn’t blame her. It’s her job.
I’m thinking of endings. The end of the semester. I just had another birthday, and it’s late in the decade for me, the last year of my 30s. Favorite students are graduating (both a death and a birth, of course), and it’s a time of clearing out winter’s destruction in the garden to allow for the life that will come. But it’s Northern Colorado, and my thumb is not exactly green, so I feel like my yard is in suspended in that uncomfortable gap between destruction and creation. There is a lot of brown out there.
There’s a funny thing that occurs with artmaking for me, also, at this point when I’m nearing completion of a piece. I’m prone to not fully committing to finishing. It signifies destruction. And of course after that there will be a gap before my party-girl friend The Creator comes over. And what if she has other plans? What if I’m not home when she stops by? The gap could mean ANYTHING. For some, this gap of potential is thrilling and full of endless possibility. It’s that for me, too, but endless possibility also includes the fear that what if NOTHING happens. What if there are no more ideas? Of course I know this is absurd, but it does worry me that The Creator will forget which street I live on or get distracted.
Recently I said “no” to going somewhere with a friend. In a momentary panic I said, “am I missing my window of opportunity?” and he said, “there are always windows of opportunity.” He didn’t realize how profound a statement that is for me, how beautifully it said to me, “it’s okay, go ahead, DESTROY. There will be something on the other side.”