The IPNB of Creativity and Artist’s Blocks – January 2012
January 4, 2012
As is fitting for a newsletter with the theme of creativity, I’ve had writer’s block this month. All my strategies to create some kind of delightful surprise or new juxtaposition, at the same time respecting balance and ease of reading and understanding, have been in a big traffic jam inside my head and body. I’m waiting for the synergy of timing, expression and connection with others to rise like the wave the surfers are watching for and carry me in to shore. I think, “this month’s newsletter can’t be too much like everything else I’ve written,” – something new and living has to be happening within the material, something that lets me be a learner and an explorer, too, and share that with you, who might be reading this.
Something similar happens when I teach. I stumble and bumble and wait for the wave of enthusiasm and creativity to well up underneath me so that I am learning along with everyone else. For me, creative flow is this confluence of material that has been mastered and the edge of the unknown. And so often, in this place, there is the ache of disappointment, of something that was right there on the border of my understanding and integration, the something that I could not quite reach that would have crystallized it all into clarity, and usefulness, and beauty. And sometimes I have the sense of being a witness to something beyond what I thought I knew, and there is wonder and some awe at being able to feel my brain change as my unknown mind is pulling things together and making new sense out of this material.
Csikszentmihalyi writes of creativity, “Perhaps only sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy — even when these experiences remain fleeting and leave no trace — provide as profound a sense of being part of an entity greater than ourselves.”
And in the flow, there is transcendence of the personal, of limitations, of time itself, and we become transparent to whatever is manifesting through us, although paradoxically our form and our being are still present, and we are shaping the flow in some way that is unique to us, so that what emerges is simultaneously entirely expressive of who we are, and holds something that is universal.
So there’s a bit of pain when I fall short of the ideal, and in these moments, both before and after teaching or writing, I invite my self-compassionate observer into the dialog with my inner critic, and one of the things she reminds me of is this video that shows Ira Glass speaking about taste and creative work and the longing for beauty:
Ira Glass Video
All of us are creators – our art may be our parenting, our struggle to love a difficult sibling or spouse, it might be light or deep conversation, or poetry, compositions on our guitar, beautiful home design, abstract painting, sand castles or a really good meal. Wherever our taste moves us to strive a little harder – these are our creative arenas.