7:30 BELLS: The Fire of Creativity

Last week I posed a question: The stone girl in the fountain holds up the vase spilling bright streams of water—like the streams of creative power. Yet she’s bowed by the weight How do we keep the force of the creative flow from shattering the vessel?

 I received some thought-provoking answers on Facebook:

From Shaula Zink: “ . . . the flow is the very thing that keeps the vessel from shattering. If the vessel had to contain it all, the tension would build up more pressure—that has to give somewhere.”

My reply: “Sometimes I feel the force of all that bright streaming will wear away the rock.”

Shaula replied: “Ah, but the wear is the essence of life. It’s our tears, our trials and triumph. It shapes us into who we are. The wear is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to make us “less than.”

From David Pecchia: “A stone wears away permanently while a person becomes worn-out from exertion of any kind, but only temporarily. Fatigue passes and leaves us incrementally stronger.”

What true and marvelous insights! They made me wonder why I really do believe—why I know--that I could break “permanently” from the force of the creative stream.  Why am I so different? Probably because I have a mild form of manic-depressive illness (bipolar illness)--called Bipolar II. 

TOUCHED WITH FIRE is Kay Redfield Jamison’s book about the fascinating relationship between artistic temperament and manic-depressive illness.
“Characteristics . . .also link the manic side of manic-depressive illness with artistic temperament and imagination.  Many of these are related to the fiery side of the manic temperament, and, when coupled with an otherwise imaginative, observant, and (ultimately) disciplined mind, they can result in literary, musical, and artistic works of singular power. The sheer force of life, the voltage, can be staggering in mania, and it often singes if not scorches the ideas that come in its wake . . .” and the people too, I might add.

Although I’ve never been manic, I’ve often been hypomanic (a lower level of mania). The “voltage” of hypomania  is more than staggering enough for me.  Jamison comments that the hypomanic state correlates with maximum artistic production. (Those in full blown mania often don’t think coherently enough to produce anything.)

People with manic-depressive illness on any level can die, and often do die--from suicide. So, for me, bearing the weight of the creative stream running through the urn is a real issue: the stone could crack, the stone girl fall.

This makes the question of how to stay well while letting the creative stream flow critical for me.
I’ll explore that in next Tuesday’s 7:30 Bells post.

LORE OF THE BELL: Understand the nature of the bell--to keep it from breaking.