This is one of the most creative years on record for me. First I had to allow myself to be bad at something long enough to improve. Embracing failure keeps my perfectionist foot away from the brake pedal. But working through that fear of failure was only the first part of my creative drive.
I still had to get the other foot to step on the gas. So what’s been driving that?
In a word: Change.
Changes in the world around me, in people around me and even inside myself, all seemed to hit at once.
Enough years had gone steadily by, that I began to pretend nothing was changing. But underneath, things were slowly growing, waiting, building.
And then along comes a season like this – when everything catches up at the same time to cause one large disruption. The sound waves of countless quiet complaints converged into a single sonic boom.
Change can be disorienting. And that change kicked my creative gears into motion. I’ve been driving to make sense of a shifting world and a shifting worldview.
In fact, the most dramatic change may have been moving from a perceived-steady world into one that is clearly changing. Those years of routine input had formed a solid ground, but it didn’t allow for a new openness to the world.
The Gas Pedal
I’ve had to find an outlet for all these new and swirling thoughts. I wanted a new way to communicate into existing relationships that were thriving on implicit agreement.
Writing, painting, music – melding ideas into pictures – allow an introvert to work out the conversation in the solitude of the studio. Then it can be shared, having finally united the bifurcated brain into something organized enough for the outside world.
The result has been a flurry of creative output. The willingness to work at it is driven more by a need to express than having a clear audience. In the end, my creations may help others understand me, or know that they are understood. But in the beginning, I create to understand.
I’ve been through enough phases, creative and otherwise, to know it won’t last. But when the tides change, that’s the moment to go for it.
In fact, capturing creative energy is quite like riding the tides.
I’ve had to let some of my old ways, with its comfortable, sure footing, drift out to sea. ( ⇒ outflow )
That prompted me to create.
Looking for fresh voices, I found a tidal wave of input from conversations, podcasts, blogs, and books. ( ⇐ inflow )
That prompted me to create.
In both directions of this exchange – displacement and replacement – the human spirit spins like a turbine.
And like a hydrologist, if you you can ride the tide just right, a lot of power can be generated. It is the human version of tidal power generation, where creative energy gets captured in both directions. Anger drives the old water out and excitement sees new ideas rushing in.
Both drive creativity.
If you’re looking to create, don’t wait for the water to settle. I look back on letters from a couple years ago and I would not write them the same now. Capturing it then, made the art honest. Likewise if I wait a few years to paint it, what I gain in perspective I lose in rawness.
Sure, I could try to lock the turbines and prevent change from seeping in. But if I can ride the tide, I can grow through it. Time alone doesn’t bring growth; it’s largely because I took the time to write back then that I have been able to move forward to now.
That’s why for now, in this tidal moment, I’m staying away from that perfectionist brake pedal and keeping my foot on the gas.
Source for tidal power graphic above