Creativity

Creativity is an essential feature of the human experience. We tell stories to entertain and to understand; we use symbols to share and learn; we craft objects to mark our tiny presence in the vast cosmos. The creative process is deeply interwoven with personal and cultural development. Through the work of the imagination, through music, movement, writing, and all the varieties of human inquiry, we are guided by the creative process toward what it means to be human. In our modern age we tend to think of creativity as grounded in arts, or in entertainment; and yet, every development of our human odyssey, in the sciences as well as the arts, has come about because of the creative spark.

My own deep interest in creativity is grounded in the role of creative practices in healing. For as long as we have utilized creativity, the stories and symbols we create have acted as touchstones and maps of our own healing from trauma and distress. I was initially drawn to these ideas as a child seeking solace in stories, then as an undergraduate discovering the work of Joseph Campbell, then as a clinician working with trauma and addictions. At each of these stages I held a different perspective about what creativity can do, how it can help. I completed a PhD focused on the therapeutic value of the creative process (and for which I won the Marvin B. Sussman Award for Excellence in Scholarship). I later adapted my dissertation into a book, Grain of Truth, which subsequently became a national bestseller. The creativity resources on this site are adapted from the book and from my subsequent clinical work with creative modalities (in psychotherapy, in education, and in the community). Creativity is a field of immense complexity and depth, and it is also somewhat mysterious. So, these resources are not focused on steps to become more creative, or tips for healing through creativity. Each person is unique, and the first lesson of creative practice is that we must each find our own distinct pathway. There are no definitive steps, no secret keys, no magic doors (except, perhaps, those we forge ourselves). Creativity is the path inward. It is how we discover ourselves.

Wind

Opening to the Creative Process

June 24, 2021, 8:08 p.m. • Ross Laird

I step off the gravel path, here where the shimmering summer air gives way to a darker quiet in the forest. A woodpecker perches on a nearby cedar, its rhythmic tock echoing clearly through the t...


Earth

Grounding in Creative Work

June 24, 2021, 8:38 p.m. • Ross Laird

The tips of my fingers are grimy and black, like a coal miner’s. Dark, umber streaks trace their way up my index and middle fingers, smudging into the pores of my skin, outlining the bloody scrat...


Thunder & Lightning

Following the Path of Inspiration in Creative Work

June 24, 2021, 8:50 p.m. • Ross Laird

Out here on the road, with the power lines down and early morning light from the sky my only illumination, I watch a cascade of small branches drift across the road in a gust of wind. I’m not sur...


Deep Water

Depression, Fatigue and the Shadow Side of Creativity

June 24, 2021, 8:57 p.m. • Ross Laird

Today the work is tense, rushed, possessed of a sharpness I feel inside, as though I might crack open from the cold. The heater is cranked up, I’ve opened the door to the adjoining furnace room, ...


Mountain

Stillness, Meditation, and Opening to the Universal

June 24, 2021, 9:06 p.m. • Ross Laird

This little Stanley block plane, the first woodworking tool I owned and still one of my favorites, has a surprising heft. I cradle it in my left palm, sole up, where the contours of the lever cap...


Shallows

Joy, Wonder, and Connection through the Creative Process

June 24, 2021, 9:13 p.m. • Ross Laird

This rowboat is old, worn down so thoroughly by memories and by the sea that it seems, resting atop two sawhorses in my shop, almost insubstantial. The overturned hull is faded and chalky, crackl...


Fire

Illumination and Discovery in Creativity

June 24, 2021, 9:18 p.m. • Ross Laird

Light, and fire. This is how it begins, far out on the horizon, beyond the threshold of shadows and the deep well of the land’s erasure. A vermilion hue like the grain of purpleheart climbs into ...


The Unfathomable

Following Creativity Back to the Source

June 24, 2021, 9:23 p.m. • Ross Laird

The idea of making a mask — or a series of masks, if all goes well — came about as the result of a weekend trip that Elizabeth and I took to Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s west coast. It’s a rugge...