May We All Learn From Hephaestus
I am a big fan of Greek Mythology, and there is this one god that I would love to share with everyone interested in creativity and design. To be creative, it can be helpful to look at the qualities of gods and goddesses from different cultures such as the Hindu, Egyptian, Sumerian, Byzantine, Celtic, Nordic, Roman and Greek cultures, and how the creative notions in these cultures manifest themselves in the stories that were told. In this post, I have decided to write about the Greek god Hephaestus, who I believe has some interesting things to teach us about how to use all parts of ourselves, the broken and the whole to be innovative and bring new and fresh ideas to this world.
So what can the Greek god Hephaestus, the partner of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty teach us about creativity and design? Well, Hephaestus was the god of the Forge, and he created some of the most beautiful objects such as fine jewelry and refined weapons. However, he walked with a limp and his limpness is an integral part of his qualities as the most creative of Greek gods.
The backstory is Hephaestus was hurtfully scorned by the gods because he walked with a limp, he was thrown from Mount Olympus (the mount of Gods and Goddesses) to join the mortals on earth, and for the Greeks and their poets he was praised as he taught them how to make art and the importance of doing so. He is considered to be the god of those who work and create with their hands and to make art in all its various forms. Hephaestus himself does the same, creating cleaver, innovative and beautiful objects. Although unethical he created a fine chain for his wife Aphrodite which she hung over her bed. But little did Aphrodite know that the chain was made by Hephaestus to catch her with her lovers. The chain reminds me so much of spy and surveillance cameras these days. Despite the sneaky trap he made, the god brought many beautiful and useful tools to the people of the world. He used his brokenness, all the mockery from the gods and the infidelity of his wife as a catalyst to create art, and it was his vehicle to solve problems creatively. So what does that teach us?
Self criticism is undoubtedly toxic and to drink its poison is even worse, we are all predestined to go through tough patches in our life. Just like Hephaestus we have own struggles, we?re not perfect, and some people will love us, hate us, betray us, mock us for not fitting into their ideal boxes and all. But please don?t think because we are imperfect or the situation we are in isn?t, that it should be our reason to keep ourselves from being creative and openly expressive. Don?t compare yourself, nor your work to other people or their work either, because if you do, you?ll only be plagued with thoughts that your work isn?t enough. One of my dear professors Lisa Henderson taught me that ?vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness?. Thus my friend to be creative is to be vulnerable. Don?t let your brokenness and your scars stop you from doing what you love most. Your story, and your life with all its ups and downs; is your greatest asset, please never forget that. It is from our wounds, scars and our fragile soul, the most beautiful and most creative things grow.