Knowing your aliveness

[This is a guest post from my main man, Fabeku Fatunmise]

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get home and whoosh down to the basement.

All of my paints and pastels. The canvases and sketchbooks. All the piles of found junk that I’d nail and glue and cement into sculptures.

By fifth period, I was already thinking about it.

Anything my teachers said sounded a lot like that teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons.

Wah wah wah. Wah wah. Wah wah wah wah.

I had art on the brain, baby.

That’s why me — a kid who never ran — would run for the bus. Every single day.

Hurry up.

I had to get home. There was art to make.

And that was all that mattered.

I’d hit the door, drop my bag and run down those steps without stopping.

I’d throw in my favorite tuneage — The Smiths, the Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees — and I’d stay locked in that basement until Mom would drag me up for dinner and homework.

Eat. Eat. Fast. Fast. Scribble. Scribble. Hurry. Hurry.

Anything to eke out an extra hour of painting before bed.

The basement was my secret underground lair.

It’s where magic happened. And anything was possible. And everything made sense.

But by the time I was 20, I didn’t feel that urge to run anymore.

I had a job. And a car. And a life.

And that was all that mattered.

I mean, I’d sketch when I had time. Which was pretty much never.

But that fire that used to cause my legs to shake and my feet to run?

Somewhere along the line the blaze turned into beige.

Maybe it was because Dad died. Or my girlfriend split. Or I was homeless for a minute.

Or maybe it’s just because I was an adult. And there’s less time for pushing paints around when you’ve got bills to pay.

The truth is, I didn’t really care. Most days, I just felt numb.

But the thing about creativity is that it won’t give up on you. Even when you’ve given up on it.

We are fundamentally creative creatures. Just being alive is an exquisite act of creativity.

And that nudge you feel to create something somehow?

That’s life.

That’s what reminds you what aliveness tastes like.

The further away I got from my practice, the louder it sang. And then one day, I woke up, picked up a brush and came back to life.

That’s what creativity means to me.

Being alive. Knowing your aliveness. Life as one great big delicious creative act.

It’s funny.

Some things don’t change much. Even after you’ve been away forever.

My basement studio is still the place where magic happens. And anything is possible. And everything makes sense.

Now my paints and pastels and sketchbooks share the space with my drums and gongs and singing bowls.

And regardless of whether I’m parked in front of a palette full of a million paints or a mixer full of a million lights, I feel alive.

My legs shake. I want to run.

Every single day.

And I love that like crazy.

* * * * *

I’m Fabeku Fatunmise. (Hi!) And aside from having a name that’s a total mouthful, I’m a sound guy and a chocolate guy and an orange guy. I love punk rock, chai and red suede Doc Martens. I’ve been hanging around with sound stuff for twenty years and spend my days helping people to get unstuck through sound and music. Find me on Twitter (@fabeku) and say hey. I’d dig that.

[photo by Fabeku]

25 responses
  1. Gina

    you rock! I loved this post! ;D

  2. Heather

    This was a great post! Allowing myself to just dive into creativity was the greatest gift I have given to myself.

    LOVE this part of the post the most:

    But the thing about creativity is that it won’t give up on you. Even when you’ve given up on it.
    We are fundamentally creative creatures. Just being alive is an exquisite act of creativity.

    Thanks for the inspo!

  3. Karin van D.

    What a great post. You are so right. Thanks!

  4. Charlane Killough Griffith

    i know these feelings well

  5. Nathalie

    Gosh, that’s a gorgeous post! So light in its form, so deep in its content.

  6. Tara

    Oh, I just LOVE this definition of creativity!

    Thanks for reminding me to keep my *aliveness*.

  7. David Cohen

    I feel you my brother. There was a time when I let my art-making side take a back seat, shoved behind technology and business plans and seriousness. There was that gnaw in the mind, in the heart, that said something was missing. Thankfully one day a little bunny came along and squeezed itself out of my pen. And then another, and a bird, and a kitty and a spaceship, and now I’m sitting at a desk covered in a spectrum of magic markers and the little note cards I draw on. It’s my playground and something else, a place to channel love and optimism, and quirky humanness into little paper planes that I can send out to the world. I think that is some of what you do so well – share your quirky humanness with the world, share it with love and hope and an ever-present refrain of “yay you!” which touches people. I want to thank you for that and for shining a little light on this blog here, which I’m looking forward to exploring. Susannah thank you for bringing in my favorite sonic ninja to guest post and for sharing the elegant quiet of your photographs.

  8. bonnierose

    I so so agree with you.. with all you wrote here… fabulous! Love this post! Thanks for sharing with us F!

  9. Square-Peg Karen

    This post brought tears to my eyes for TWO reasons: one, because it’s SO easy to go from “blaze to beige” – and two, because it’s SO easy to come home again — Aren’t we (peoples) amazing?!?

    “Know your aliveness” – wow, THAT’s going to ring in my brain for awhile!! love it!!!

  10. chris zydel

    Yes, yes, YES…. to leg shaking can’t get enough of it creative aliveness!!!

    So happy for you that you again have your secret creative lair. YUMMY!!!

  11. Erica

    I love the rhythm of your writing. It’s so obvious you’re a sound guy.

  12. Nicola

    Square Peg Karen, I totally cried too!!! I went from Blaze to Beige and back again and I’ve never felt more alive!

  13. Cheryl

    This is sheer poetry – I love it ! And, oh I recognise those feelings…I felt like that about writing and art when I was young….and went numb for 30 YEARS !

    In 2009, I bought pencils and a sketch book, then some paints and brushes, then I signed up for art classes at night school, I started writing regularly again… I’m moving from “beige to blaze” ! Stop thinking about it and do it now !

  14. leah

    Fabulous post, Fabeku!!

  15. Joe Ray

    Wow! A friend sent this to me with note saying I could have written this. I read it and thought “damn, did I write that?” I’ve never had a basement so it must not have been me. But it was and is me.

    Beautifully written and inspiring! Love it. Thank you for sharing the passion.

  16. Fabeku Fatunmise

    Thanks everybody for all of the comments + goodness. And thanks to Susannah for the sweet invite. Color me grateful.

    @Gina – Thanks!

    @Heather – Diving into creativity… yes! I love that. It’s totally delicious.

    @Karin – Big thanks!

    @Charlane – I think it’s good to talk about this stuff. So people who feel lost know they’re not alone. And so people who’ve found the awesome again can celebrate together.

    @Nathalie – What a fabulous thing to say. Thank you!

    @Tara – Totally welcome. Glad you dug it.

    @David – See, now I love your doodles even more. And I didn’t even think that was possible. (p.s. Thanks for the kindness. Totally appreciated.)

    @bonnierose – Thank you!

    @Karen – Isn’t it wild? There’s something about the whole dance that’s kind of mysterious + crazy + extraordinary. All at once.

    @Chris – Leg shaking FTW!

    @Erica – I love that the rhythm comes through. Thanks for saying so.

    @Nicola – Right on!

    @Cheryl – That’s awesome! And huge! I’m stoked to hear you’ve found your way back to blazing.

    @Leah – Thanks you!

  17. Fabeku Fatunmise

    @Joe – Thanks! Glad it struck a familiar chord.

  18. Donna

    Wow! This piece puts into words what is so relevant to me. After years of being in a ‘creative coma’, I am now rediscovering all the things I loved as a young girl and I’m loving it. And yes, I feel alive for the first time in ages. Thankyou for the lovely post.

  19. Fabeku Fatunmise

    @Donna – That rocks in so many ways! Two thumbs way up for feeling alive again.

  20. danielle@ ravennagirls

    Wow, I can totally relate. When I pick up a paint brush after months of shoving art aside to do life instead… its like i never left off. My hand just moves and my brain explodes with color.
    Its so comfortable.

  21. Laurie Matthews

    love the rush of running home to be creative. haven’t felt it in a while, but feel it lurking under the surface. thanks for showing me that it’s really truly there.

  22. Nicole | Blue Bicicletta

    I’d like to respond with one thousand exclamation points because I couldn’t agree more with every word you wrote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. DJ

    (I shout it from a high school art teacher’s desk every day. Woohoo!)

  24. Fabeku Fatunmise

    @danielle – Isn’t that familiarity awesome? There’s something about it that gives me this deep-down-to-my-bones kind of comfort. p.s. Brain exploding with color? LOVE!

    @Laurie – It’s totally there. For sure. And I swear it’s always so much closer than we think it is.

    @Nicole – One thousand exclamation points! Yay! And thank you.

  25. uzma

    This is so true! Every artist can relate to this at some point in their lives. Would you mind if I cross-post this on my website (with a link to yours of course). Please let me know if that would be ok. I’m a scientist by trade but recently made a conscious effort to dig back into my artistic background and try to move it forward. Your post sort of took the words out of my mouth for how I’ve been feeling, but so much more eloquently than I could have ever done.

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