It's 19th December. Still haven't gotten all of the gifts for people you know yet? I feel for you, gift buying is always a tough thing to do. To think of the thing that someone really wants, to know what gap there is in their life which you can fill with a particular product. There's a lot of pressure on getting someone the perfect gift, even more so if it's someone who is close to you. What if you don't put in as much effort as they did? What if you got something they already have? What if you buy something that shows that you don't really understand them at all? If you're looking for the perfect gift for that creative person in your life, then I may have the answer for you.
In these days of yo-yoing lockdowns, we are all going through our personal struggles and trying to make sense of the new normal. For some the troubles are visceral, we are in a worldwide pandemic after all, but even for those who haven't had to deal with the loss of a close one, the repetitive or lonely nature of these new restrictions can eat away at your soul. The spark of creativity we get from unique experiences around us are becoming more of a memory than an exciting source of potential. In the meantime, we're left reaching the murky depths of Netflix and going for walks in the cold rain in the search for a slither of vitamin D, just to mix things up.
For creative types, this is undoubtedly putting many into a rut. When you can time your lifestyle to the minute, it leaves very little spark of inspiration to do something new. Your motivation feels low, and you just want to hibernate until it's all over. It's a common problem at the best of times, but in this era, it can feel harder than ever to overcome.
"Where do I come into all of this?" I hear you ask, and it's a good question. Right now, in the face of this repetition, one of the greatest gifts you can give someone dear to you is the gift of expectation.
"What? The gift of expectation? That sounds more like a curse than a gift you fool!" and that's where you're wrong. You see, sometimes the creative process can feel like screaming into the void. In normal times with performance arts, we're lucky to deal with audiences who give us instant feedback on our choices and decisions. Without this, it's down to us to find this from within ourselves. The best way to help those in a creative rut, those with a need something to aim towards, is to give them the feeling of purpose.
Does your friend play the guitar? Challenge them to cover a particular song that you think would suit their voice. Does your friend paint? Suggest a particular thing that you think would fit into their style. Do they cook? Ask them if they've ever made a particular dish they might like. Give them a suggestion. They don't have to take you up on it, but the simple fact that you've offered it reminds them that someone out there remembers that they exist and wants them to keep doing what they do best. It's not about you, if they totally ignore your suggestion, then no harm is done. It's about them, and it's about you being the person there who is making them feel seen and reminding them that you want them to express themselves again.
You may see a number of articles appearing here on easylaughs in the next few weeks. The reason for that? I challenged a large number of people in the easylaughs community to write about particular things. This is a community filled with talented, interesting individuals, and I want to hear more from them, to get to understand them better. Why didn't they write a blog before? Well, maybe they thought it wasn't their place, or that no one was really interested in what they had to say. Maybe they felt like their words might be misinterpreted as egotistical without context. I don't care what reasons they had not to do it, I just want to hear things from this group of hyper-talented people all with such rich and varied backgrounds. I challenge them to tell us more.
It's easy to miss the self-awareness about what it is that makes you interesting. That's because to you, everything about your life is as familiar as it possibly can be. You already know everything about yourself, nothing is new or unique. The things you do most often might feel obvious or mundane. But you know what? They probably aren't. We are our own worst critics. So much of our lives are unknown to others, and what seems obvious to us can be captivating to others. Hell, I listened to an 8-part podcast on containers (yes, the containers they put on ships) and came away preaching how interesting it was. It was a whole world I knew of, but only on listening to more did I realise how little I knew. Stop thinking you know everything and share what you know best.
Do you need a creative kick up the arse? I know I do, and I know I need it regularly. The few times when someone has given me the gift of inspiration, it's been one of the most heartfelt, personal gifts I've ever received and has sparked something in me that makes me want to do more. It's left me feeling more energised and empowered than anything else can possibly compete with. Be the friend that makes it happen. This holiday season, give the gift of inspiration.