Think back to when you were single. Did you dream about what your future family might look like?
I certainly did. I was brimming with ideas about education, discipline, music making and more when we started a family.
Does your family look like what you imagined back then?
If you’re like me, you’re still striving to build the family life you’d like to have.
Sadly, I can’t remember a thing about the ideas I had, except that they were so fun and creative! What happened to my wellspring of ideas for a fun family life?
There’s no simple answer, but one contributing factor is that under the demands of keeping a home and raising a family, I’ve dried up my creative “well.”
Filling the Well
As I mentioned in my last post, artist Julia Cameron uses the analogy of “filling the well” to describe how to nurture creativity. When I first heard the phrase it didn’t make sense to me. If I’m thirsty, don’t I go to the well for water? How am I supposed to get enough water to fill a well?
The well analogy made more sense once I realized that creativity is not like a gas tank. You can’t just fill up at the creation station and drive off without writer’s block.
Creativity is much more like a well. The well taps into an aquifer, which is replenished by rain. The rain is then filtered by dirt and rocks and enters the aquifer as clean water. A well is “filled” when the aquifer is replenished.
The rain of creativity can be just about any experience we give our attention to, but we also have to process our experience like rainwater is processed through the earth.
Mindless Entertainment vs. Creative Fodder
If we amuse ourselves with one thing after the next and never digest it for use in our own creative lives, we are buying into the lie of entertainment.
If we process what we consume and use those ideas for our own creative work, then we are not frittering away our time with entertainment, we are filling our creative well.
This definition oversimplifies things, but it’s a good start.
When I was single, I had time to watch families and process what I’d observed. That filled my creative well so that I was brimming with exciting ideas. Once I actually had a demanding baby, I was too busy and too brain-dead to observe and process. I only felt guilty that I wasn’t the mother I wanted to be – whatever that was. I was too inundated by well-meant advice to know.
Parenting is a creative endeavor. To do the job well we need time to rest and time to fill the well.
This realization feels monumental to me. It illuminates several mysterious areas of my life, from why I love an instrument until I start taking lessons to why I hate it when people look over my shoulder while I’m working, despite the fact that I love performing! Stay tuned for why this matters in family life!
Do you relate? Do you already use “filling the well” in your own life? Please share!