“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be."
— Abraham Maslow
Maslow's words convey the grip and urgency of life as a creative assignment. But creativity is not the exclusive domain of the musician, the painter, the poet. The urge to make, and above all, to make meaning — exists at the heart of being human, in all of us. Yet our deepest, most intimate creative assignments often go unlived in the world. Creativity is unpredictable, and often inefficient, because it insists on taking risks. Curiosity is tantalized by uncertainty: it makes us want to question, wonder, wander, search, scrutinize, and forage. "Get your head out of the clouds!" — a child may be told, as if the sublime state of wondering were something useless, even long before his or her thoughts owe obeisance to a salaried position. We are too often educated, and trained for vocations in ways that extinguish the essence of this creative force.
One of the most persistent sources of suffering is unlived life. There is no compensation for it; no salary is high enough to pay us back for unlived life. To suffer from unlived life may eventually feel like an intolerable cheating of the self. Unlived life must go underground, and exist as a secret. Then what in fact constitutes an essential part of self instead becomes the source of shame. Sometimes a precipitating crisis awakens us to the betrayal. Familiar coordinates may be lost: home, job, or marriage — or all three — while the usual distractions diminish in efficacy. Other times, no grand, cataclysmic event occurs, but instead, protracted lethargy and discouragement sets in, a loss of appetites that is depression, and one suddenly feels tired, and very old.
Psychotherapy listens to what has gone unheard for too long. The process constitutes a homecoming, a re-membering of the things that you may have once loved, but did not dare to live. At its heart, it is a creative process. It requires courage, and it rewards courage. The right therapist will accompany you with steadiness as you dare to take this step. The Jungian analyst Robert Johnson wrote about the real art of psychology not as "finding skeletons in the closet," but as "finding gold in the spirit." I consider no work more valuable, and I invite you to begin this conversation.