Enduring Art and The Power of Creativity for Happiness

I have a favorite author that I almost never recommend to people because I’m not sure my taste will run the same as other people’s. Anthony Trollope wrote 84 novels in his day, the Victorian era. He was a contemporary of Dickens, and like Dickens, had his work serialized in newspapers, vast sweeping plots, with romance and political intrigue, that ran into the hundreds of pages, with heaps of description. However, unlike Dickens, Trollope’s books didn’t aim for creating sweeping social change; he set out to entertain.

And 150 years later, I’m still entertained. I still read Orley Farm late at night, and the Barchester series, and the Plantagenet series, and pretty much all eighty-four of his novels. The description is delightful in its copiousness, and sometimes it even helps me in my ongoing battle with insomnia. The characters are flawed and the plots intertwining, and the Victorian era is evoked extremely well. He’s Dickens Lite, if you ask me.

Now, I’m writing what I think of as Lite…whatever. And there’s only a very slim chance it will endure in any form, and probably no chance it will endure a hundred and fifty years. But it might. Even if it doesn’t, I’m having a lot of fun with the work of creation. It gives me joy, even if no one reads it in a century. Even if no one else reads it now.

I found a quote yesterday while I was trolling some old journals, looking for stories from when my youngest daughter was born. What I found was this, a reference to a mind-expanding talk I’d heard at a conference–about two great sources of God’s happiness being creativity and compassion. You can read the whole talk here, but the couple of paragraphs that struck me were these:

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty. Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Later in the talk was this great nugget of encouragement:

“You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter. What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Writing is where I’m pouring my creative energy these days. That, and my family. Sometimes I try to cook something lovely, as well, like my daughter’s pineapple upside down cake for her birthday yesterday. There’s joy in it.

I hope you find some joy in creation today.

2 Responses

  1. Peggy
    Peggy October 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm | | Reply

    I agree that it’s inherent to create, something, anything that is part of us that wasn’t there before. I’ve been crafting for Halloween and it’s been very joyful.

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