The Cycles of Creativity
Although at its core, creativity is a mystery, the creative process is knowable, and we can use it as a template for living a more fulfilling, aware, meaningful life. If allowed, the cycles of creativity become the enduring flow of our lives, bringing with them the freedom to live life sourced from your passions instead of your fears – from your life’s true purpose rather than from your ego’s vision of security and prosperity.
Creativity and the Spark of InspirationThe initial spark of inspiration is creativity’s calling card. It can be an idea for a poem, sculpture, dance or concerto, a new garden, business or invention, a Halloween costume, a party or a gift; it can be a vision of you in a new relationship to others and to Self. Inspiration is non-verbal; it is the life-enhancing “Wow!” moment when the vision of what can be –of who you can be – carries you into thr unchartered territory and the land of possibility.
The land of possibility is the womb of creativity; it is here that you swim on the sea of the unconscious; your spark of inspiration is thrust about by the surging waves of the chaos. This land is not unknown to you. In fact, you visit it every night in your dreams. What sometimes makes it a nightmare is that your mind cannot make sense of this non-verbal world. Which is why mind – with its language, thought and need to analyze – should not be allowed entry into the early stages of the creative process. The mind is also home of the ego, that busy-body who will surely bully his way in and put your spark of creativity under the microscope of judgment! Now, you feel confused. The image that made glorious sense a minute ago feels muddy, vague and stupid – just another one of your dumb ideas. Out it goes!
Creativity and GestationThat is why inspiration needs time to gestate unfettered in the unconscious, in the place of mystery, where there is only possibility, not definition. Stillness, patience, passion and risk are all part of the journey through this inner landscape. Here chaos finds form in its own time and at its own pace. If an idea doesn’t work, it floats away of its own accord; the unconscious sends up another idea, possibly close to the first, possibly its polar opposite. We see this happen all the time in nature; and you don’t hear nature giving up in despair. Imagine a plant saying, “Woe is me, my new shoots died. I should have known the sun was going to be too hot today. Why can’t I ever do anything right?” Nature in her wisdom simply lets go, sows more seeds, puts out new roots and the cycle begins again.
After an experiment failed for the ninety-ninth time, Thomas Edison said, “Now I know at least ninety-nine ways it wouldn’t work.”
Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he hit 714 home runs.
You fell, a lot, when you first tried to walk, bike, skate, ski.
Creativity and BirthThe period following gestation is the appropriate time for the mind to get to work. Now you think, you organize, you focus on getting the project finished and looking good! It is a busy time, filled with its own energy. And it feels good. You are so productive. The good old mind is clicking away. At the end of the day, you think, “Ah, what a productive day I had! My creative juices were really flowing!”
What the Rational Mind Can and Cannot Do!
The rational mind likes to take credit for being the creative genius; but as incredible and invaluable a machine as the mind is, its gears are driven by the work done during the periods of inspiration and gestation. You know you can’t start your car without its battery. Then you need to progress from first gear, to second, to third, to fourth and, if you have a sports car, into overdrive! Zoom, you’re off, the micro mesh working seamlessly as each gear follows the other. So easy to understand for a car, but so hard to understand for the creative process.
The Mind’s Predominance Comes at the End of the Process.
And because most people don’t realize that they’re laying the foundation during their time floating around in the unconscious, and during their time spent ever so slowly gathering together the exact parts needed to bring the new creation to birth, they value the third stage far more than the first two.
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