Creativity and Ritual

To embrace Creativity means to embrace change.

Creativity has transformative properties—and who experiences these transitions more than a female? My hips changed from narrowed ballerina to widened woman as I entered my twenties so that I could use them to carry things—good for more than just guitars and yoga mats, by the way! My body has morphed into a butterball baby factory four times! This torso of mine also became a milk farm for those four infants. That’s just the physical alterations. What about the mental adjustments women go through in order to accommodate the family’s needs? Of course, men do too, and even infants and children change every few weeks. Our developing bodies and psyches are in a constant state of flux. This power to change derives from the force of Creativity.

Many Creative acts require risk, intention, hard work, dedication, talent, insight and space. If we don’t engage with the force of Creativity, our problem can’t be solved; our screenplay can’t get finished; our painting can’t get hung. But Creativity that starts inside our brains and cells doesn’t need our conscious participation. For example, even when you make up your mind that you’re ready to deliver your baby, you can’t will yourself into labor. No amount of castor oil or jumping on the bed will outdo nature. Even my young students who are working actors don’t want to grow up because it might mean outgrowing their casting director’s needs, but nothing they do or say will prevent the onset of adolescence—and there’s the major mood swings to boot! We change whether we will it or not.

Just recently, I went through the infamous change that women do when they’re about my age. This transformation is complex and confusing and is viewed by society as some sort of disease. Lucky for me, one of my best friends Andrea Slominski, is writing her dissertation on the subject of Menopause because she can hold the candle for me when these complex, confusing and transformative moments darken my path. She truly understands and honestly, what feels better than being known?

Perhaps to offset my own fears of society’s negative attitude toward aging, I decided to embrace my life’s imminent change and throw myself a party. I called it a “Punctuation Party” to symbolize the shift from what mythologists call the Mother/Householder stage to Regent stage. We recited poetry and did ritual stuff, like beading a crown and crafting “blossoming” necklaces. It was so significant, Andrea and I decided our culture should adopt these Punctuation Parties to usher more of us into this exciting question-mark stage of life, right alongside the Mexican Quinceanera and the Jewish Bat/Bar Mitzvah.

The human race has been practicing ritual since the beginning of time. We still have birthday parties, baby showers, weddings and funerals—even graduations—to help us commemorate the big moments in our journeys. Rituals are our way of participating in those rites of passage that happen to us regardless of our deliberation. Ritual allows us the opportunity to put a frame around the fascinating photos that are life itself, to reflect and honor and engage with our own transformation. Ritual also connects us to those who have gone before us. Without it, our lives would be somewhat superficial. Ritual and ceremony tie us to our inner selves and to humanity—and as always, Creative acts connect us to something larger than ourselves. We participate—consciously and unconsciously—with the force that propels the species and the universe at large to thrive.

That’s something to celebrate.