“Change reality; don’t abandon it.”
— Rita Mae Brown.
Humans often become passionate about things that anger or hurt them. Perceived injustice toward one’s
self or others, betrayal, loss, and grief can result in the kind of deep rage and pain that causes passion. That
rage and pain can exhaust us emotionally and physically, or send adrenaline spiraling through us. Our focus is
dragged from other areas of our lives to this one debilitating issue. It derails our creativity, sometimes for
months or even years.
I believe it is in the normal course of things that injustice, betrayal, loss, and grief pull us away from the
everyday elements that make up our lives for examination and healing. However, if this process is prolonged,
it can become injurious to our emotional and physical states, to our relationships and to our careers.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in the audio version of Women Who Run with the Wolves, explains, “The conduit
that carries creativity also carries passion.” No wonder our creativity dies when our lives are pulled offcenter
by extremely hurtful experiences; the creativity conduit is filled with pain. The cause of that passion to
which Estes refers can also be “an age-old anger, a historical anger.” She encourages that the rage “is a part
and a piece of your history that will probably give rise to a lot of your ideas that are creative and whole and
Of course, deep pain, grief, and anger take much time and emotional work to heal, and we often need
the help of others such as psychotherapists. I do not want to say the path is easy. But we can find a gift in it
all if we combine creativity with the painful or anger-filled passion to cleanse the creativity conduit, to help
ourselves and help others.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, many of my stories deal with heroines and heroes who rescue
children, especially by raising abandoned or orphaned children. I’ve felt a passion for helping children who
lost their parents since I was a child. A parent walking away from a child is an action that is unfathomable to
me. (I am not talking about putting a child up for adoption; I am speaking about abandonment.) Perhaps this
results from my brother’s death when I was 10. Even then I thought that if it was so painful to lose a brother,
it must be worse to lose one’s parents at a young age. Or perhaps the passion is a result of my parents raising
two of my cousins. Whatever the reason, that passion has become intertwined with my creativity, a core
value presented in many of my stories.
Mary Kay Ash retired from a sales career in the middle of her life. She’d raised three children as a single
mother while selling products for firms such as Stanley Home Products, during which time she experienced a
lot of discrimination because she was a woman. Upon retirement, she began making notes with the intent to
write a book on how to run a company based on principles she believed in, principles that she did not see in
practice. Mary Kay hoped that writing the book would help her heal from the anger of years of discrimination.
She spent a month working on the book. Then an idea popped into her mind. Why not put her theory
into practice instead of into a book? That spark was the beginning of Mary Kay, the enormously successful
beauty product company, a company built to empower women, a company that rose from Mary Kay’s anger
over unfair treatment because she was a woman. I don’t know whether she ever wrote the book she started,
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