The economy seems to have picked up a bit—an observation that has nothing to do with the state of my 401k and everything to do with the topics my clients want to talk about in our sessions. These days, nearly all of them mention a desire to reclaim their sense of play and creativity.
The desire for self-expression is pretty high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You have to have an awful lot going right in your life before it occurs to you to want more fun. That said, even a life that offers a roof over your head, food to eat, and safety from imminent peril can be flat, gray, and filled with despair, if there is nothing to feed your creative spirit.
Remember how wonderful it felt, as a kid, to play? After school, on weekends, and over long, languid summers, the kids I grew up with spent countless hours goofing off. We rode bikes, invented games with friends, formed garage bands, read books, swam at the community pool. Eventually you’d get bored, but if you were even modestly resourceful and imaginative there was always something new to try. I always felt that boredom was my creativity’s best friend.
A Full Moon in Leo, the sign of playful expression, naturally leads to reflections about how it feels to be completely, joyfully engaged in some kind of creative activity. In my memory, at least, my childhood self felt that way on a daily basis. As an adult, I can go days, maybe a week or more, without feeling that way, living my perfectly lovely life by rote. It’s far too easy to cook the same meals, take walks that cover the same territory, and watch too much Netflix as a substitute for creating stories of my own.
This is in marked contrast to my earlier incarnation as a musician. Each day, I devoted hours to the sheer pleasure of singing, playing guitar, and writing songs. As a result, when the time came to go onstage, I was ready and eager. I wasn’t the best singer I knew and didn’t have the most beautiful voice. But I could tell that I had the ability to touch people’s hearts when I sang—and to this Leo, that was the important part.
Leo is called the sign of creativity, but that doesn’t really tell the story. It summons visions of a child’s playroom, filled with bright plastic toys, or a crafts room with construction paper and Elmer’s glue. But Leo’s desire for creativity transcends the tools we use to summon it. Leo symbolizes pursuits that open the heart and make you feel completely alive, to the extent that you don’t even question whether you’re doing it well, just whether you’re doing it exactly as you like. That can be a challenge for adults, who have responsibilities and full schedules, and who lack a child’s luxurious surfeit of empty hours for seemingly idle pursuits.
But throwing yourself into a creative passion is worth the investment of time, because the benefits spill over into every part of your life, making everything—your job, your relationships—more distinctive and satisfying.
We all have something inside us that wants to be engaged and needs to be shared and noticed. It says, “This is what it’s like to be me. This is how I see the world.” That’s Leo’s destination, and practically any road can take us there. You may enjoy quilting, or cooking, or designing video games; you may be called to play softball, mandolin, or Lady Macbeth. You might even write essays and publish them on the internet. You’ll know the right tools for you when you find you can’t stop fiddling with them long enough to make yourself get a decent night’s sleep… when they keep you awake like a big, golden, Leo Full Moon.
I think a lot of the reason people spend hours watching TV or reading stuff on the internet instead of pursuing their passions is that they feel exhausted, and these activities require nothing from them. The thought of committing a little time to doing something fun and creative sometimes feels like one more box that needs to be checked off at the end of a long, tiring day.
So I suggest this alternative: For one week, commit yourself to one half hour of boredom each day. Put yourself in a room with the tools of your creativity and nothing else. You don’t have to create anything—but no looking at screens or making telephone calls. Who knows; like a kid with too much time on her hand during summer vacation, you might decide to relieve your boredom by picking up a pen, a paintbrush, or a guitar.
We’re all busy people. But we’re all creative spirits, too. And while it can seem daunting to carve out enough space in your life to become really proficient at a creative pastime, in the end the tools matter very little anyway. The key is to master the tools just enough that they cease to be relevant–except as the conduit for expressing your unique, individual spirit.