Freedom from Pain - Julie Brown Neu

Freedom from Pain

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

“Whatever pain you can’t get rid of, make it your creative offering.”

That’s a quote from Leonard Cohen that opens Chapter 3 in Bittersweet by Susan Cain Her question for the chapter is “Is creativity associated with sorrow, longing – and transcendence?” The answer is yes, but the book is giving me a lot to think about. 

Last month, we thought about the pros and cons of creative freedom. We considered how difficult it can be to face that blank page when you are truly free to create anything. What if part of the fear of the blank page is the fear about what might come out? Perhaps the fear comes from the recognition that there’s some pain that needs to be processed and what may result as it comes out onto the page. I’m not suggesting that we have some long-buried trauma that’s going to suddenly come roaring from within, but perhaps some loss, some disappointment, or some unexpressed sadness is tamped down just below the surface. American culture is one that shuns pain as weakness. We’re a “No pain, no gain, pull yourselves up by your bootstraps, crying is for babies” kind of place. And that makes expressing pain, even in the form of art, incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, the only way to really heal emotional pain is to go through it. Maybe creating is a safer way to do that.  You don’t have to go running for your easels just yet (unless you want to!), but take a little bit of time to explore what it may be that you need freedom from.

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