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American actor Ethan Hawke has appeared on TED to debunk the myth that creativity is a minor part of our lives. He demonstrated that the way we usually turn to human expression whenever something very bad—or something very good—happens in our lives is the result of creativity.

“Do you think human creativity matters?” Hawke asked. “Well, hmm. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about poetry. Right? They have a life to live, and they’re not really that concerned with Allen Ginsberg’s poems or anybody’s poems until their father dies, they go to a funeral, you lose a child, somebody breaks your heart, they don’t love you anymore, and all of a sudden, you’re desperate for making sense out of this life, and, ‘Has anybody ever felt this bad before? How did they come out of this cloud?’

“Or the inverse—something great. You meet somebody and your heart explodes. You love them so much, you can’t even see straight. You know, you’re dizzy. ‘Did anybody feel like this before? What is happening to me?’ And that’s when art’s not a luxury, it’s actually sustenance. We need it.”

Hawke then goes personal to discuss how creativity changed the course of his own life as well as the life of his brother, a retired Green Beret colonel in the United States Army Special Forces. Hawke’s brother’s creativity did not manifest itself in the visual arts, writing, or music. It manifested itself in the form of his leadership, demonstrating that simply being passionate about something allows you to exercise your imagination and generate novel ideas.

Watch Hawke’s 9-minute talk and be inspired on how allowing yourself the space to be creative can change your life.

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