The greatest gift we can cultivate in our lives and give to those around us is stability. My parents were models of stability, working, tending, helping. To say they were pillars of the community is an understatement. “Busy” and “doing” were their by-words.
As a teenager, I rebelled against my parents’ lifestyle. I believed (although I couldn’t have articulated it) that stability was the antithesis of creativity. I believed that dependability stifled spontaneity. I couldn’t see that stability is actually the genesis of creativity. Because I had such a dependably “boring” home, I was free to pursue music, make good grades, be in student government.
I am blessed to have current models of stability in my life. One artist-friend has been faithfully, consistently working for nearly four decades –going to his studio every day. Only recently has his effort been paying-off, both in terms of recognition and monetarily. His wife’s stability in maintaining a full-time job has meant freedom for her husband and for their family. A doctor-friend, working typical doctor’s hours, is the backbone of the bass section in several choirs in town. Every director loves to see him coming through the door because his voice and musical acumen are so valuable. The stability of his work and personal life feeds his creative life. And, so many people benefit from both.
We all have examples in our lives of people on whom we can rely, through thick or thin. And, we all, unfortunately, have friends or family that are unstable, unreliable, people who don’t seem to be able to order their lives and who leave chaos in their wake. These people over-commit their time, then break appointments. Others enthusiastically commit to a project, then never show-up. Still others get mired in an addiction, which leaves them with no energy for anything or anyone else. These are the people that require so much mopping-up. These patterns strain relationships, stir resentment and leave us feeling ill-used. Chaos is the absolute opposite of creativity.
In Madeline L’Engle’s book A Wind in the Door, the main character, a boy named Charles Wallace gets mysteriously ill. Scientific sleuthing reveals the mitochondria in his body’s cells are dying. Apparently, the farandolae, small particles within the mitochondria, are rebelling against their own nature: they are supposed to take root within the cells and sing. Because they refuse to root, the entire universe is imperiled. Think of it: the stability of the world depends on the song of farandolae inside mitochondria inside the cells of a small boy’s body.
No matter how insignificant we feel ourselves to be, the world depends on our Song of Stability. Going to work, taking care of family, raking the leaves, paying our bills, walking the dog –these are radical acts on which all order hinges. May we live into these responsibilities with joy!
Beautifully written and insightful! I hope you share this with the friends in whom you’ve witnessed a stability as grounds for creativity. They may not even be aware of this pattern in their lives.
I’m reminded of my old girlfriend pointing out to me that I lived such a healthy lifestyle–eating three regular meals a day, walking or running regularly. I took these for granted. But she, who had worked hard to overcome an eating disorder, helped me see these were the basis of my ability to work on a dissertation and give to other people in my life. I’d never have noticed this if she’d not helped me see it.