“Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.” (William Shakespeare.)
I think I’d have put ‘the soul’s joy’, but I admit his version scans better. The thought’s true anyway, for most of us at least.
I got the quote from the ‘Start2.co.uk’ website, which I would recommend anyone have a look at – it’s been set up by the NHS, and it aims to increase ‘wellbeing’ (a slippery concept if ever there was one), by boosting creativity. In theory, I think that’s a fine idea, and in practice it could work, but it depends on the individual really, and how they respond to the suggested activities. Certainly I agree that achieving something creatively has a huge therapeutic effect on me, and probably would on most people, maybe especially those inclined to depression, or related conditions. And there are plenty of sections on the site, with lots of different activities in each, to cater for differing tastes and proclivities. The idea is to visit the site daily, for a creative boost to get you going, but I don’t have the time for that – that routine may work best for people with time on their hands and a determination to do something creative, but a difficulty in getting started or knowing just what to do. For me, it will be an occasional visit, for a bit of random inspiration.
I tend to find instructions annoying, when it comes to creative activities. My creation needs to be mine, and constrained only by my own limitations, so, unlike in other areas of life, I tend to rebel against rules and guidelines. But perversely, that’s sometimes where the inspiration comes from – when I can’t think what I want to say (or paint, or whatever), or maybe just how I want to do it, someone trying to tell me how is the push I need to see it my way, or at the very least, see how I don’t want to do it. Sometimes the results are a bit ‘meh’ (but still better than producing nothing), occasionally inspiration strikes from an unexpected direction.
Today I looked at the Brain Boosting section, and the Creative Writing activities within that. There was a section on using a piece of art to create ideas for writing, but the theme was Autumn Leaves, and I wasn’t feeling autumnal, so I left that one. And then there was a Haiku section, but the themes in that one were all based on summer, and the suggested activities mostly involved going outside and observing summery things – which is difficult to do on a rainy March night in England. So I skipped to the next bit, which was Flower Acrostics. In general, I don’t find flowers particularly inspirational, but I gave it a go, and following the instructions, produced this. (You know what an Acrostic is, I presume? The letters making up your subject become the initial letters of each line. That’s the only rule.) I don’t usually do poetry, and this doesn’t follow any pattern of line lengths or rhyme, and it was also written quickly and not edited much, so I may come to regret sharing it (if indeed I can share it, given our drastically erratic internet connection over the last 2 days), but I can’t think what else to do with it (and can’t get back on the site to do anything else for now), so here it is.
Thrusting into Spring, a vibrant riot of colours; contrasting
Underside tender and pale. Dawn chill, rivulets of dew.
Lipstick mouth pursed for the sun’s kiss, the waxy gleam
Inviting. Warms to an open-throated gulp of summer,
Pistils quivering, a golden-centred tipsy cup of joy.
Technically rubbish, I’m sure, but I was quite pleased with it for an off-the-cuff effort put together in 20 minutes or so before dinner. I wanted to spend tonight writing, but I’m feeling hampered by a lowish mood, and amazed at how much I miss Google when I can’t get online. (I can’t remember what I did before I had the internet. Oh yes – I looked things up in reference books, which took forever. God bless Google.*) So at least I’ve produced something today, and feel somewhat better for it.
The site has other areas – there’s a Wellbeing Thermometer, where you take a test to determine how, er, well you’re being today (or perhaps how well your being is?), and which promises to then suggest which activities might benefit you most. I haven’t tried that yet. And you can fill up a Happiness Bottle with thoughts that inspire you, and also create a Good Mood Animation, and lots of other fun things that I also haven’t tried. One of the features I like most is the inspirational quote on the Home page – it doesn’t just change every day, but every time you load the page, so it’s a seemingly endless source of literary wisdom.
The current quote (my internet connection flickered on for a few seconds so I hurriedly reloaded the page) is apparently a Chinese proverb: “One joy scatters a hundred griefs.”
So now I have ‘joy’ at the beginning, middle and end of this blog. That has to be a good thing.