I suppose I should tell you a bit about what's happened to me this year.
At the end of July, I bought a house with someone — no, he can't be "someone," we can't go around calling him that until the end of time, so we'll call him L.
I've known L for a long time. The first time I knew him, he was one of the most important people in my life. We fell out of touch for nearly twenty years, and then I had a dream about him; the two of us, standing together in his front room, just talking.
I think that's all I'm going to say about that. When you share your life with another person, there are some parts that you don't necessarily want to share with everyone else.
But I'm still going to share my ideas. What I'm thinking about. What I'm working on, and the problems that I'm trying to solve along the way.
This week, for most of the whole week, I've been trying to figure out whether love makes you more creative.
There's not going to be a conclusion to this, btw. If you were expecting one. This is a question that I am still answering.
Because my first thought was that no, love does not make you more creative. It still has to come from you. You still have to make the decision to make the thing, and you still have to decide that you're going to set aside time to make the thing, and you still have to come up with the focus and fortitude to see the thing through to completion.
And then my second thought was that, well, love can help with all of that. If you've got someone (we're not calling him "someone," we're calling him L) to support you, either morally or mentally or simply through sharing the day-to-day work of living together. If you've got another person to help you process what L calls the "threat matrix" — the big worries about health or family or pandemics and elections that can get into your head and become the thoughts that occupy your thoughts. If you've got a first reader, as it were, to respond to your work and help you make it better.
But that answer's kind of a cheat, because most of it is about logistics and very little of it is about love. Does being loved, which I am still trying to define because it is so new to me — and which I am currently Venn-diagramming as some intersection between "being seen," "being cared for," and "being stimulated" — does that experience actually inspire you to produce more interesting, more complex, more honest, and/or more vulnerable creative work?
And what about the other end of it? Does loving someone else make you more creative?
Here's where it gets very interesting (and complex, and honest, and vulnerable) because I wasn't very good at loving L at first. I thought I was — in fact, we said our life felt like a honeymoon — but I didn't really know what I was doing. You can see it, in my journals. They're still about "me" and "him" as if we were two separate things that needed to be balanced and negotiated. What's best for me vs. what's best for him, and so on.
Then I realized that I was thinking about it all wrong. It has to be what's best for us. What will make our relationship stronger, and what will weaken it.
And somehow, loving the relationship — seeing it, caring for it, and stimulating it — made me better at loving the person.
There's a song L and I like to sing to each other, from the musical Once Upon a Mattress:
Yesterday I loved you
As never before
But please don't think me strange
I've undergone a change
And tonight I love you even more...
I used to think that song was about the emotions associated with love. Now I think it's also about the actions. The little choices you make, every day, intuitively or deliberately. To love, after all, is a verb.
And I am not sure whether love makes you more creative, or whether either being loved or loving someone else helps you produce better creative work. The results are not yet in.
But I am fairly sure that love is a creative practice.
And I only figured that out this morning — which means that if creativity is defined as "making connections between things" (which might not be true, but it's how I defined it in my last post) this particular connection might be one example of love making me just a little bit more creative. ❤️