Despite the fact that we all have bodies and despite the fact that they are intrinsically tied to our ability to create the work that matters to us, our bodies can become an afterthought in relation to our creative practices. They can become a gross inconvenience, requiring food and rest and pleasure and touch when we would rather they ask for less so we can create more.
As political and anti-capitalist as our work may be, it can still be difficult to peel back the fingers of the industrial model that pins our value on our ability to be productive. Even as writers and artists and performers we can get sucked into a way of seeing the world that has us contorting our creative work to serve markets—and even social justice movements—that will metabolize us without hesitation.
And with the contortion of our creative work, comes the contortion of our bodies. The sensitivity that once allowed us to get intimately in touch with the nuances of the world around us suddenly becomes overwhelming and we are driven to numb ourselves as a way to cope. There stops being time for the slowness that allows us to make new connections in our creative work and so we rush forward until we collapse from exhaustion.
In the many ways that capitalism has co-opted self-care, the narrative that taking care of oneself is a luxury to be purchased has been immensely damaging to the creative communities I participate in. The rituals that keep us well have either become disdainful or unattainable and our bodies suffer as a result. Our physical bodies, our emotional bodies, and our spiritual bodies.
Of course, at some point as creatives we have to decide how we’re going to engage with the behemoth that is capitalism. Unless we are flush with resources, we have to pick between changing the machine and learning to work skillfully within it. Which means learning how to participate—to a degree—inside a container that may strain our physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual fibers.
It also means doing the radical work of putting your body first. Of centering your wellbeing as an essential part of your creative practice instead of as an afterthought. Of recognizing that the thoughts and behaviours that run you ragged were given to you by the human construction that is capitalism and are not, in fact, irrefutable truths. Making good art doesn’t mean working yourself to the bone.
You get to include your body in your creative practice. You get to be more than tired and stressed and stretched all the time. You get to feel full, to have days off, and to give yourself time to process your experiences. You get to ask for enough financial compensation so that you can pay your bills and plan for the future. Not as a luxury or as a sign that you’re “selling out” on the movements and subcultures that you belong to. But as a requirement for being able to keep doing the creative work that will wake other folks up to what a world driven by people and not profits could look like.
So tell me, how is your body included in your creative practice? Or how would you like to include it more?