Creativity, Community, and the Connection to Health

This wellness center was borne of a love for people and place. The shop and services we offer may help keep the lights on and doors open, but the greatest meaning comes from the people sharing the space. Indeed, the vision for opening here was one of crafting a space for sharing. We share knowledge of plants, and the body’s amazing capacity for healing. We share commiseration in sickness and times that are tough. We share love of these mountains, of our neighbors, and the comfort of a small town. We share skills that may help better each other’s lives in some way, no matter how small. We share creativity and inspiration, and this has been one of the greatest blessings of the space so far – the number of artists in the community who have felt moved to share their talent for the sheer love of creating.

Painting/Sketch gifted from a customer.

When we think of health, our culture tends to conjure images of trim runners in a marathon, bulging muscles lifting weights, clinical offices and lab coats, and salads upon salads. Or conversely, and as many with chronic illness would tell you, we may instead dwell on when we feel our lowest, (wondering if it could possibly even get any lower), and the thought of “health” as more synonymous with the absence of it. But these fragmented pictures are only partial truths in contrast to the complexity of each individual life. The state of being that motivates one towards peak fitness, or sees them suffering, is not merely physical, rather our mental noise and emotional baggage weighs in and influences outcomes and experience as well.

Human beings have largely been a tribal, communal species. Even if the stark, obvious, scientific reasoning justifies this on a “safety/survival in numbers” theory – the fact remains, regardless of primitive motive; historically we have developed further via interaction with others, or (at best) in cooperation with others.
This idea goes hand-in-hand with humanity’s penchant for creativity. Before the printing press and internet, all of our histories and traditions used to be passed down in stories, even refined over centuries with further creative flare to poems and songs, not to mention expressive imagery such as drawing, painting and carving.

Painting gifted from a customer and his sister.

In our media-tech saturated modern life, so often I see the seeds of creativity within us get killed off before they even get an attempt at sprouting. So busy are we to entertain the time investment. So inundated are we by the myriads of output there is in the world, that we think, “why should I do -this- or -that- when someone else has already done it better? Become more famous? Made more money?” etc… We snuff our own potential. We do not allow ourselves any patience. We do not practice anything – instead we expect to be masters at first attempt, and if we know we are not then we relinquish even the process of trying. Amazingly enough, so many people who are creative in many ways on a daily basis, hardly find space to even give themselves credit – the self deprecating “starving artists”, long a specter of our “society”.

Paintings gifted for the shop from a friend.

Technology is a tool which can also be used to create amazing works of art. Our modern media dissemination can help creativity in far flung corners of the planet see the light of day, where in the past it may never have even traveled as far as next door. But we cannot let the saturation point make us shy away from our own inner inclinations to share and be expressive. Maybe your expression comes out in building a beautiful budget spreadsheet? Maybe it comes out in 3D computer modeling for your favorite games? Maybe its in your kitchen, cooking food for those you love? Maybe its in how you arranged a bouquet of wildflowers? Maybe its in your words? Maybe its in a journal you keep just for yourself? I think that last point is of particular importance – that the spirit of expression is unto itself, and it is more important that it be expressed, period. Even if its not for the whole world to see. First and foremost we should express things for ourselves, for our own catharsis.

If we cultivate creativity in ourselves, if we nurture it in our children, if we support it within our communities, perhaps the state of mental/emotional well being in our culture would improve? Perhaps we would find more meaning in our lives because we actively put it there? Perhaps we would find more connecting points, more similarities in the shared human experience? Perhaps our total well being will feel addressed in a way that no one pill, or exercise, or diet alone could touch upon. The concept of holism, in application to health, is understanding that we are all more than just the sum of our parts. Finding a creative expression you enjoy is a way of solidifying that understanding.