If you are experiencing any blocks of any sort, or if you are in the midst of a creative funk, there is a workshop out there that I highly recommend. It’s called “Tapping the Creative Universe”, and it was created by Jim Paredes to help people unleash their latent creativity.
It was in 2002 when I first met Jim Paredes and his wife, Lydia. They were (and still are) one of the most creative couples I know. Lydia was teaching pottery at that time, and it was at their old ceramic studio Pottery Exchange that I came across a curious flyer. It was an invitation for a creativity workshop called “Tapping the Creative Universe,” which Jim created.
I had no idea what a creativity workshop was and what happened there. However, I was intrigued by the title. How do you tap the “creative universe?” And what happens when you do tap into it?
The six sessions that comprised the TCU workshop were an eye-opener for me into the realm of flow and authentic, creative living. I learned that all of us are naturally creative, that we are born that way. But somehow, as we go about our life, we lose touch with our inner artist. We place limits on ourselves, we learn to blend in rather than stand out, and we stop being spontaneous. We lose our creativity.
But what exactly is creativity? The root word of creativity – create – comes from the Latin word creare, which means “to bring into being.” To see his/her creations “live” in the world – this is the primal need and purpose of any artist.
Eight years ago, I was in-between jobs, without any goals or purpose, single and depressed. I was beginning to go back to painting, which was my first love. I had taken small steps needed for artistic recovery, but I felt that my life could be better and more meaningful. In a word, I was blocked but didn’t know it.
Looking back, it seems like a different life. Today I am married to a wonderful, beautiful woman (who is also an artist). I have had 6 one-man painting exhibits. I went back to school to complete my college degree (one of my goals for the workshop). I have a fulfilling day job, and started a business with my wife and our friend. Life is still challenging, but it is more joyful, meaningful and purposeful. I found my creativity and I owe it all to Jim’s workshop.
Interview with Mr. Jim Paredes
How did TCU start?
It started with the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ (by Julia Cameron) which Danny (Javier) gave me. It was some 10 years ago. I ran the workshop once and decided to tweak it, change a lot of things and do it the way it is now.
How different is the course now, compared to the earlier ones?
The course has evolved greatly. It’s got songs incorporated into it now. The concepts are more fleshed out. New things have been added and I would like to think it is more substantial now.
Is creativity a natural ability or is it a skill that can be learned?
It is both. We are born with this great potential. Like a muscle, the more we use it the greater and stronger it becomes.
You mentioned once that this workshop is about “doing”. Have you also considered creating a workshop that focuses more on “being”?
This workshop, as it has evolved has become a lot about ‘being ‘ too. You do the exercises to be in touch with your core or your being. And from there, one can bypass the mind and be more spontaneously creative.
How has the practice of Zen affected your life? And is there any correlation between Zen and creativity?
Zen has anchored me in a way. I was a creative without focus or without grounding. Zen has made me (get)in touch with my core being and has made me see the connection between creativity and spirituality.
Given the Pinoy’s natural giftedness, why haven’t we reached our full potential yet as a people? Are we a nation of blocked creatives?
Yes we are. We are gifted, for sure. Sometimes we do get a glimpse of it. But like I said, without the guidance and the awareness, creativity is experienced more as just an impulse. To be great and consistently great, it must be experienced and exercised as a conscious act.
You seem to get even better and better and branching out wider and wider. Aside from photography and music, what other artistic fields do you plan on undertaking?
I have been doing a lot of writing. I will go back to teaching soon, and will surprise myself with a new endeavor. I still don’t know what it is.
If someone came up to you in the street and asked, “How can I make my life into a work of art?” what advice would you give him/her?
By awakening to it and consciously using it. The greatest contribution we can give the world is the pleasure of experiencing our gifts, especially the gift of who we are.