By Jake Sapon
I wrote, at the beginning of our process, a few definitions of Compassionate Creativity.
Now, after over 15 gatherings and 7,000 miles of experience, I feel it’s time to revisit these definitions—to notice what about my relationship to our project, to compassion, and to creativity has evolved.
Throughout our journey, each person and place we have encountered has helped me to reflect upon my values, my dreams, and the limitless ways to be both compassionate and creative in the world.
From Lindsay in Fayettville, and Claire in Philadelphia, I learned how hospitality is an art form. From Kenny and John in Bisbee, I learned about generosity. From my cousin Rena in New York City, I learned a new frame through which to think about compassion and creativity. From guests at our gathering in Kansas City, I learned the importance of courage and openness in sharing my own art. From Ravi in Silver City, John in California, and my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Richard in Philomath, Oregon, I learned the importance of spiritual practice to my life.
The list goes on and on.
In each place we arrive, we bring all of these people and all of these lessons with us. As we continue, our definitions and values evolve, shift and grow. I write to you with immense gratitude for both all that I have received and learned and for what I have taught and given.
Through this learning, I have come to understand Compassionate Creativity as an attitude towards our relationships with ourselves, others around us, and the world. I associate the word Creativity with a sense of moving within a realm of expansiveness and imagination—a willingness to believe in possibilities, and to choose which possibilities to make real. I associate the word Compassion with a sense of connection—a felt sensation of the interconnectedness between all people.
Kāli describes her new book as a memoir that looks at the integral relationship between Compassion and Creativity, especially within moments of uncertainty and when moving through deep grief.
When I let these two qualities interact within me, I find myself creating and refining a system of values and beliefs through which to live my life:
- Compassionate Creativity is assuming that everyone is an artist. It's believing that creativity is not some special characteristic only available to a select few, but the basic core of human expression. Compassionate creativity is understanding that the way we live our lives is our Art.
- Creative Compassion is listening. It’s listening to each other and to ourselves not only with our heads, but also with our hearts and our guts as well. It’s learning how to communicate, even when we think it’s impossible, and learning how to believe that healing is constantly possible. It’s understanding that every person, every animal, every child, and every being can be our teachers.
- Compassionate Creativity is creating our own definitions of success, understanding that there are as many ways to be successful as there are people in the world. It’s knowing that you—not anyone else—have the power to define your own dreams.
- Creative Compassion is believing in the power of human connection. It’s trusting that we have things to learn from our ancestors and our descendants, that community can sustain and empower us, that open hearts are just as important as sharp minds. It’s understanding that one small action of kindness or of healing can have a very big ripple.
- Compassionate Creativity is understanding that our processes are perhaps even more important than our products, and that work can and should be playful and joyous and loving.
- Creative Compassion is learning how to work with our own feelings, particularly our own negativity. It’s learning how to navigate our doubt and our fear, our anxiety and our depression. It’s learning to blow upon the tiny sparks of playfulness, joy and compassion that can warm and sustain us in times of despair.
- Compassionate Creativity is courageously learning how to share your art and your work with the audacity to believe that you have the power to shift the whole world.
- Creative Compassion is choosing to believe that people are basically good-- that kindness and generosity tend to be the rule, not the exception.
- Compassionate Creativity is creating or discovering your own system of values to anchor you through your journey in the world
- Creative Compassion is understanding that these values will need constant interpretation, work and practice, play and love, and that the discipline of creating our lives requires both gentleness and precision.
What does Compassionate Creativity mean to you? Creative Compassion?
What have you learned about these words from your life experience?
By Jake Sapon, CC Storyteller
Seen through the lens of CC value 44: Sharing what you believe and believing in what you share...
Up until this point, I have written little about our gatherings—the book readings, community potlucks, and musical performances that have been the heart of our tour.
It’s been far easier to talk about my own learning, growth, and experience than to reflect on the ways that we might, in turn, be affecting others. Though I can feel in my gut that I am making a positive impact in the world through this journey and these sharings, I don’t know—at least not in exact, precise terms-- what that impact is. Part of me is afraid to even express my hope that what I am doing is making a difference, for fear that I might be judged as grandiose, or naïve to think that something as simple as gathering 20 people in a room and sharing music, food, and stories could change the world.
By Jake Sapon, CC Storyteller
At our gathering in Farmington, we talk about Angels.
In Hebrew, the word for angel (malach) literally means “messenger.” Thus, an angel is not necessarily a divine being, but is rather anyone who, at exactly the right place and time, carries a message. It is said that each of us here on earth is an angel, carrying a message to be delivered at a specific time and place, though we might not ever know when our message has been delivered.
Post by Jacob Sapon, CC Storyteller
As isolated incidents, each of our encounters on the road is merely a collection of events. A description of foods, colors, conversations, people, names, places, smells, sounds.
When put together in order, these encounters begin to form a more full picture-- like microscopic dots of paint that, when examined from a distance, become a painting. This painting of places and people, told through words, is a story with a particular interpretation—an interpretation where people are, again and again and again and again, generous and kind. A story in which the world we live in is fundamentally characterized by a longing-- pulsing within all of our flaws and vulnerabilities--- to connect.
By Jake Sapon, CC Storyteller
On our ten our drive from Kansas City to Denver, I pick Wilson off of the map to stop for lunch based on its close proximity to the highway, a hunger for diner food, and a strange sense of intuition. We pull into the town, and realize that we have arrived in “The Czech Capital of Kansas.” We stop beside a giant, spherical structure and a sign that proudly declares that we are looking at “the largest Czech egg in the world.” I feel as if I have stepped into a time machine, but I’m not quite sure what time I’m in. The town is quiet and friendly. Children and grown-ups wave to us as we drive by. The buildings around us remind me of a set from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.