Friday, March 14, 2014

Creativity, Revisited

I found an old post on a topic that I really love.  Brought it out, did some editing and enjoy it all the more now.

Recently, I read Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art.
It's an incredibly simple and no-nonsense book that helped me to understand this whole bit about creativity and why so many of us encounter problems launching the ideas that come and go through our heads all day long.  He calls this "resistance" and his fascinating book is based upon the identification of this "enemy" and the "battle plan" for overcoming it.

Around the same time I was reading this book, I listened to a TED lecture (if you haven't tried this website, you're really missing something) given by Julie Burnstein, author of Spark: How Creativity Works.  It was another simple but inspirational guide, this time dealing with the four virtual rules that we must embrace in order to be creative. I hung on her every word.

Creativity grows out of our everyday experiences. Too often, we look too far and we miss things. Rule Number One suggests that without any excuse, we have to remain open to these life experiences.

Nothing can be achieved without ambition and pain.  It is easy to run away from challenges but, if we stay the course, there are lessons to be learned from what we tried most to avoid.

We set limits in our lives, allowing them to become our enemies, the wall of resistance to which Pressfield referred.  Julie Burnstein urges us to go beyond those limits.

Rule Number Four reminds us that life is the best of all teachers.  We need to learn to embrace loss and to remember that failure is an inevitable part of success, either by being its opposite or becoming a step towards it.

 Perhaps the hardest of the rules, but for me, the most important, is that ability to embrace loss, recognizing that some things are more beautiful when repaired than in their original state.

I'm learning this on a very simplistic level - embracing broken seashells as I walk along the beach, an ordinary life experience.  For me, this is part of a new paradigm.  I used to only bend down to collect shells that were in their "perfect" and unbroken state, rejecting even the tiniest of flaws.  I hadn't realized what I missed until I started being less selective with regard to perfection.  I now have boxes and bags of shells, many of them, former rejects.

My creativity was unleashed after my retirement.  It seemed that during my career, while I was called upon to be creative in the workplace, it always was with restraint or permission.  Resistance, I learned, is fueled by fear and the fear of making an error in the eyes of the "boss" was high test.  My time spent in contemplation, post retirement and post the loss of my mother, was a real catalyst to my creativity. I found it interesting that Julie's TED lecture was originally given in November of  2012, at the time I was abroad, on a refueling stop along the way to a more creative life, one that I embrace without fear.

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