Ever since I heard the concept in elementary school, I’ve subscribed to the idea that adversity makes a person stronger. At the very least, it adds a certain meaning to those times in life when it feels like the entire universe is conspiring against one’s happiness, health, financial success, good relationships with others . . . .
I’m still inclined to accept the idea on a meta-level, though I’ve seen troubles take dear friends and family down hard. Some of them have never recovered. Some decided their pain was too much to bear and they killed themselves. So I’m not quite as ideal as I once was.
However, the other day in conversation with a tremendously accomplished man, Chris Schueler, a different take on the concept came up: Chris believes that adversity makes creativity stronger.
Hmmmm. I don’t know how I feel about this one. The thought encourages me; I really want to hang my hat on it. How comforting to think that the emotional struggles I’m going through right now will make me a better writer.
I want to believe; I’m just not seeing any obvious evidence of its veracity yet.
It is true that I’m creating more in general. While my fiction may not be as large in word count as it was while I was home full time, I’m sticking to a schedule and have only forgotten to write one day in the last 412. So I’m far more consistent. I’m also painting, “doodling,” dancing and singing more than I’ve done in years. So, again, the sheer quantity of my creativity is increasing.
But is any of it “stronger?”
I can’t say because I don’t know what that means.
There’s a bit of “One must suffer for one’s art,” underlying my interpretation of Chris’s observations. I know that’s not what he meant. He was talking about his own work and how he was able to pour much of his emotional turmoil into incredibly moving television productions such as Cody — a video about Cody Unser (of Unser racing family fame) and her journey with paralysis.
I don’t feel like I’m pouring anything into anything. Instead I feel like I’m a dancing drop of water on a hot frying pan.
Right now my days have an automatic quality to them rather than the vigor of creativity. Yeah, yeah, it’s early days in my own journey and I’m maintaining well. Yes. I know all of that. And maybe it’s too much to expect that I can even judge if I’m becoming stronger creatively – or if my creative output is stronger.
Again, I don’t know, but I think it’s a really interesting idea.
Would you like to explore it with me?
1. Do you buy it? Does adversity make creativity stronger?
2. Can you give examples in your own life or from artists/writers /other creatives that have found this to be true?