Burning Eyes and Deeper Insights

I spent most of this week in the dark, scratching at the skin bordering my eyes as I tried desperately not to touch them. Recovering from laser eye surgery, there was little I could do in terms of writing or using my computer. I was cut off from my main sources of productivity; not to mention frustrated, bored, and in pain.

In the midst of this, my focus began to move from my current predicament to a creative project I had been working on (a documentary about my family history). Turns out there was one thing I was still capable of doing, even with recovering eyesight: conducting interviews with family members.

What followed were two captivating interviews that touched on many facets of the stories and mythologies that make up my family. In those conversations, the pain in my eyes began to fade away, as I became more engrossed in what I was doing.

It’s a curious thing to peer into the events before your birth, that in some ways define who you are. I learned of a great grandfather who lost his entire family to the Spanish Flu, and was forced to start over again, thus creating the lineage that leads to me. I learned of a great great grandfather who died swimming across a river because someone bet him he couldn’t (seems impulsiveness runs in the family). And I learned about a great great aunt who had no children of her own, but did everything in her power to make sure her nephew escaped the franco ghettos of Ottawa.

These are great stories. But I’m not sure they’re as important as what I learned about those still alive today. In those brief moments, I found myself drawn so much closer to those I interviewed, and felt a peculiar feeling of security and belonging. I suddenly understood members of my family in ways I never had before. Relationships that had been dormant for the years I’d been abroad were renewed. The concept of family which had become abstract suddenly gained an immediacy. More importantly though, I started to understand myself better. At a time in my life when many things are in flux, between jobs and geographical location, I had suddenly grasped onto some sense of deeper meaning. It’s difficult to describe, as one of my uncles said:

“It’s almost beyond words, it’s just something that you feel”

I hadn’t set out to gain new meaning in my life, or understand those I cared about, I had simply wanted to make something that interested me. In the process, I discovered so much more.

Creativity isn’t just about a pretty picture on the wall, or the feeling of people admiring your work. When we incorporate creativity into our lives, we start to gain deeper insights into who we are as humans. The peripheral stresses and pains, the burning eyes, the digital withdrawal, they start to fade away. You can discover so much more than you expect, just by exploring what what interests you. I still don’t know what the end point of this documentary is going to look like, but I do know how valuable the process has already been. That’s enough to keep me going.

If you want some advice on finding what it is that matters to you, or taking the first steps towards creation, check out cavetocreation.com, where I help people complete the creative project of their dreams. Or shoot me an email at robson@cavetocreation.com, I’d love to hear what you’re working on.