Let your sorrow flow into creativity

I don’t know what it is about this world that makes you angry, sad, and hopeless all at the same time. There are plenty of things that could. The degradation of our environment goes hand in hand with the degradation of justice for all people on this planet – human and otherwise. I know that some of these issues will have upset you at some time.

The big issue of our time, and the one that gets me exercised, is climate change. And its battle ground in the UK at the moment is fracking.

The issue has become so real of late. The effects of climate change are to be seen and felt across the globe at the moment. Unprecedented storms and floods in the UK. Unprecedented cold as well as unprecedented drought in different parts of the US. People are suffering. People right here, in this country. People like us.

Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels. That much is by now abundantly clear. And over the last 100 years or so, we have been burning it like there was no tomorrow. In order to avoid a catastrophic 2C rise in temperatures, we can only burn another half a trillion tonnes of carbon. That may sound like a lot, but we could burn through that quite easily in the next 25 years or so.

Moreover, the fossil fuel industry is sitting pretty on reserves (identified, quantified and cost-effective to exploit) of five times that amount. If we burned all that, our planet would become too hot for people to survive.

Still, the fossil fuel companies carry on looking for more resources to exploit. Like shale gas, which is extracted by the controversial technology commonly known as fracking.

Fracking has its own local environmental risks. But why on earth would you start drilling or fracking or digging for oil and gas in pristine places like the Canadian forests, the Arctic, the Amazon, and England’s famously green countryside, if you already have five times the amount you can burn without bringing disaster on us all?

As I said, it gets me exercised.

Letting the colours of your emotions flow onto paper may look like this. Firescape by wcmopp on deviantart.com

Letting the colours of your emotions flow onto paper may look like this. Firescape by wcmopp on deviantart.com

And I know there will be things that set you ranting in much the same way.

It’s good to rant, on occasion. It gets the emotions out. But eventually, your friends will get bored hearing about it, and the readers of your blog will turn away, because it’s all a bit much to take.

So there are other things we need to do with our anger and our sorrow for this world. We need to express what we feel, so that the emotions don’t get bottled up and block the work we need to do. But we need to do it in ways that are appropriate and don’t do harm to others.

Creativity is one answer. It doesn’t have to be public or artistic. It just needs to be real. A real outlet for the emotions that sometimes overwhelm us – with sorrow or joy. All of them need expression.

Creative practice

For me, the easiest way is to get out a large piece of paper and some coloured pens or pencils. I then choose some colours that go with my emotions and just play. Let the pencils move over the paper. Let the colours intensify or soften. If you have water soluble pencils, you can moisten the colours with a brush and paint with them as well. The result is an abstract drawing that you can put near your meditation space. Or keep tucked away in a folder. Or burn.

Another way I like to express myself is through dance. I choose some music, or I dance with my shamanic rattles. And I just let myself go for it. In my private space, I can dance like nobody sees me. Although joining a 5 Rhytms class, if there is one in your area, is a great way of doing this with other people.

Your creativity may express itself in music, in poetry, or in textiles. Whatever allows you to just let the feelings flow out of your body into the world in some way will do just nicely.

If you feel inspired to, share your expressions with others. Find a little tribe of people who express themselves in similar ways. Let yourself be supported. And then, when you feel brave, you may want to share your creativity with the world.

Liv Torc is a performance poet, who has a knack for combining the dark with the hilarious.

Angie Spencer, paints the beauty of the hedgerow.

Neil Pinnock has explored dance and now teaches 5 Rhythms for a living.

Cilla Conway is moving from the abstract to the meticulously detailed, making divination cards of stunning power.

And somewhere in Canada, Christina Kingsbury is transforming an old landfill site with biodegradable art.

What creative expression draws you? Try something today, or the next time an emotion, beautiful or terrible, sweeps you up. Let it flow and see what happens when you follow its path.

Other resources

Expressing emotions through colour and line. A lesson idea for children, but it will work for you as well. With plenty more examples of what emotions look like on paper.

9 great reasons for getting creative. Some good reasons to get past your reluctance, and what creativity can do for you.

Expressing your feelings through creative writing. Another lesson for young people, but it’s full of ideas to get you writing and expressing yourself with words.

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