This week brought a milestone in my life. My partner and I have decided to close our business, which has been on the Internet since 1996. I intend to continue with the courses and consultations I give. I will also continue writing the nonfiction and fiction that’s been central to my life for a long time.
I’m hardly contemplating idleness, but I’m feeling the sense of a big gap from where I’ve been to where I’m going. In a lot of ways this is the essence of creativity.
Creativity is all about the gap, the emptiness, and the uncertainty. If not effectively harnessed, it can be about fear, the “what’s going to happen now?” feeling.
Yet it can’t be any other way. Going back to the days of the typewriter, if I have a piece of paper that already has type on it, I can’t use it to write something new. My new typewritten words will blur into those already written. I need a fresh, blank piece of paper in order to create something new.
I remember that whenever I rolled a piece of paper into the typewriter, nothing intimidated me more than the vast emptiness of that paper. It’s the difference between “what’s going to happen?” and “what am I going to create?”
The second question empowers us. It reminds us that we do have the ability to shape our worlds. It prompts us to know that every choice we make begins to fill that blank page.
I have made many choices by default through sloppy thinking and by allowing fear to dictate my decisions. Today is the perfect day to remind myself that I can be deliberate and creative in my thinking. I can imagine what I want for the future and make choices that will bring my vision to reality.
What choices are you making today?
Yesterday evening, as I sat at the computer, I noticed a dark, shaggy form in the yard. I was sure I knew what it was.
In early June, yearling male bears are evicted from the family home and sent off to start new lives elsewhere. For reasons unknown to me, my back yard is on their route.
Upon confirming that it was indeed a bear, I went upstairs to make sure it didn’t topple the big garbage can that sits at the beginning of the driveway. It gave the can a sniff and proceeded on its way.
What does this have to do with creativity? When I first moved to the Catskills in 1993, I was, due to a traumatic encounter with a bear in Yellowstone National Park, terrified of bears. The idea that one could lounge in my own yard literally immobilized me. Now I’m pretty casual about a siting–not that I plan to turn one into a pet.
Imagination makes the difference. In the past, I imagined the worst, envisioning many creative forms of death. Last night I used my creativity to wonder what it might be like to be a young bear, still small in bearish terms, alone for perhaps the first time in its life, unsure of its future.
We can create anything with our imagination. What did you create today?
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” -Thomas Edison
People who don’t use their inventive abilities spend their lives tripping over various forms of junk that are aspects of their lives. Maybe the junk is a job whose moving parts have begun to rust. It might be a relationship that’s coming to a creaking halt. It could be the feeling that each day is going to be like the one that preceded it.
To be inventive means looking at that pile of junk and imagining a different way to arrange its parts. Maybe some parts have to be thrown away, and others need to be polished or filed.
For example, your primary relationship might not be running well. Imagine its elements: you, the other person, the various ways in which you communicate and work together (or against each other). Maybe the junk is resentments or anger held over from the past that are gumming up the moving parts. Maybe you’ve given up on the hope that anything can change. You might think you need a new relationship, but maybe you need a new vision.
What would happen to the pile of junk in your life if you looked at it as a potential masterpiece? You might not invent a light bulb, but you could light up your world.
Last night before I went to bed I heard an owl hooting. Since my house is surrounded by forest, this is a normal occurrence. The difference was that I listened.
This owl reminded me of an improvising musician. Its basic theme went like this:
It experimented with several variations, and with each it seemed more and more pleased with itself. The hooting got increasingly enthusiastic. I was reminded of Walt Whitman’s, “Song of Myself”:
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
That’s the beauty of creativity. When we connect to the pure knowing of our inner beings, what we express has the potential to transform the world.
Recently I listened to an interview with Carol Look, who teaches EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and who has created some very useful teaching tools in audio and DVD form.
In the interview she described how, if you’re in a negative mood, you can shift your focus. Some of the methods she listed were petting your cat or dog, taking a walk in nature (which can include a city park), and listening to music you love.
This may sound simplistic, and I’d rather say it’s simple, by which I mean easy. Because of its ease, simple methods for changing one’s mood get overlooked. We are so trained to believe that only the complicated and difficult methods can help us change our lives. That’s another way of saying we must struggle and suffer so that we appreciate the achievement of our goals.
The trouble is, after a long journey of struggle and suffering, we are often too exhausted to be appreciative. We’d rather take a nap.
When we, instead keep it simple, we’re able to enjoy the journey. The purring cat or tail-wagging dog, the pleasure of watching birds fly, or the pure enjoyment of music you love are their own rewards. When we change our focus, we aren’t waiting to be happy. We are happy and ready for more.
What could be more creative?