She reached up, touching the cold ceiling above her head, relishing the grain of stone beneath her fingertips. The lamp flickered. Shadows raced across the cave walls, spirits running through time. She hoped there was enough fat in the lamp. It would be difficult to find their way out, and she was afraid of what might press close in the darkness.
He was coming toward her. She was silent. It was easy to be, here; the walls were always talking. He stood beside her, holding a half clam shell filled with red, thin like new blood. He held it close to her hand, up near the rock. He put the end of a bone of a dove into the red, and blew, through the hollow. His breath mingled with the fluid. It bubbled and whistled. The spirits whistled in reply.
She felt the red against her hand’s flesh, cool and soothing, not hot like the blood of a kill, the blood of death. Her hand was steeped in it, her knuckles smooth under the coating. The light of the lamp flared and for a moment, her skin glowed. The red pulsed through her, inside her, and outside her. She peeled her fingers away from the rock with sadness, breaking the union between the past and the present. On the pale rock she’d left an imprint, a pale hand, five rays. A part of her to remain with the spirit shadows, a manifestation of her moment.
All of us share this imaginary CroMagnon woman’s compulsion to create, though we cannot understand the significance of her hand print, made deep in a cave some 40,000 years ago. We can say, however, that just like her hand print, what we create also leaves an imprint of ourselves on the physical world. At its core, creativity is about self-expression. Creativity is also, at its core, a manipulation of the world around us. Not only do we make our inner self external when we create, but we also interact with the external in a personal way. Creation is an act of giving and also an act of receiving.
I create because it is a way to give that is comfortable; it does not require thanks, and it has no strings attached. It is safe. When someone judges my hand print, they are judging not just my gift but my desire to give it.
I create because the parts of me made external become a part of my world, a friendly part, that I can interact with, and receive from. I have forged connections with my surroundings, I am not so isolated. When someone judges my hand print, they are putting a value on the parts of me made external. They are changing the dynamic of my interaction with them.
Judging a creative product is important. To give requires a receiver. And understanding what we have expressed of ourselves is aided by understanding what others have perceived. However, it is never a task to be taken lightly. Even the simplest of creations may be imbued with meaning for the creator, and that meaning is not always accessible to others, like hand prints on a cave wall.