If I would apply my own definition to the word ‘creative’, I would call it ‘to do something out of the ordinary’. Either by creating something, or expressing thoughts and ideas that are far removed from societal norms. These norms differ from country to country, so anything ‘creative’ is almost universal in its sense of being different from what is common and considered normal. When someone is defined as being a creative being, is he or she then not already removed from society, if only in the eyes of the beholder? For one to do something that shows creativity, and thus having people call that person ‘a creative being’, there already has to be something off with that person.
If you live in a society that rewards creativity and champions it, like Western society, there is space for you to grow and create and find equals. Western society offers a place to thrive and find success. People thrive off freedom of the mind and the freedom to express themselves. Society thrives in equal measure, because it will become richer, more diverse and will have more to offer to newcomers. How can someone be called ‘a creative being’ in a society that harbors so many? Creativity can be expressed in many ways. But even in an almost utopian society like the Western one, the creative class is still somewhat apart from normal society. This is due to its rarity and quirkiness, and because the gift of creativity is not given to all of us. Like there exist only so many left-handed people.
This gift comes with a price, for ‘the genius’ that is attached to it tends to take up far too much space in the mind. It inhibits the workings of certain area’s of the brain that are essential to functioning in a healthy and normal way in society. Creatives fight an uneven fight, because they don’t have the means to force it to leave their bodies, and more often than not it leaves them struggling to cope. One can choose to ignore that part of the brain they find that they are either blessed or cursed with, and focus on and try to develop a façade of normality, so society will hopefully accept them as one of their own. But by doing it this way, they sign up for a life lived less joyful, where they will have failed to accept their own peculiarities. Like a gay man, afraid to come out of the closet.
If, on the other hand, they would choose to succumb to that what lays within, they will find that by accepting who they are, a new and more honest sense of self appears. A resurrection, in dire need to express itself. Luckily, there are the many art forms that will open their arms to them, and offer these beautiful minds a place of comfort.
But it is not always that a gifted person can find refuge in the arts. Often they will accept refuge because they have no other way to turn, but will soon realize that they found only a temporary shelter. Their mind has no real place to call home. This is their curse. Like the expression: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’, one can say that with a creative mind there also comes a dark side. They feel it as an ever present uneasiness, unhappiness, a form of peculiarity that always has to be carried around and can find no release in society. Sometimes it will feel like it has to be caged by alcohol, drugs, or both.
Has history not shown that being blessed in the way I have described can be hard to deal with? Two fine examples are Amy Winehouse and Philip Seymour Hoffman. One a singer, the other one an actor. Both blessed with an extraordinary gift. A gift that in the end might have felt like a load too heavy to carry. For those not in the know, Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning when she was only 27 years old, and subsequently joined the 27 club. Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose, though much later in life. They were both considered among the very best at what they did, and their deaths left a hole in their art. One could say that they were unfit to resist the temptations that came with their fame, and they were overwhelmed by it. But were these two the most sober human beings on this planet to begin with? Before all the fame? Was it not that in order to numb themselves, they each took what was most easy to come by in their respective surroundings? It is sad that we will never know. What we do know, is that even though they were two greatly talented human beings that had a lot going for themselves, this wasn’t enough to make them happy. And that truly is a shame.