Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Too Busy Not to Nurture Creativity

Moss inspires me. I think moss is my spirit animal.
When life gets complicated and busy, a focus on obtaining the fundamentals of food, shelter and safety is what gets us through. We build the solid granite base of Maslow's pyramid. When time and money are limited, keeping our nose to the grindstone and working hard seems the responsible thing to do - particularly when others depend on us. Why is this noble single mindedness often stressful instead of satisfying? Why are we pulled to take our eyes off the vital tasks at hand? Are we lazy? Addicted to entertainment? Amusing ourselves to death?  No. We look up and our thoughts stray because we are complex organisms and the stuff that makes us smile and feel inspired, the "quality of life" stuff is being crowded out by the time consuming process of keeping body and soul together and we're lonely for our heart's home. Shaking this distraction off and briskly returning to the hamster wheel of work is not the answer.

Regularly exercising the creative aspect of the soul is essential for everyone. Every human being carries a glowing ember of the pure and perfect ancient spark that set this whole world in motion. In this spark resides the essence of our humanity. It's a piece of our Creator; a piece so clearly not manufactured by ourselves that it can feel foreign, unmanageable and superfluous. But it is the exact opposite of that. God put this fire in us for a reason. And the reason isn't to serve as a carrot on a stick, propelling us on to a far off time when we have "the luxury" of nurturing creativity. The spark is for now. It's to ignite the fire that makes the entire engine run each day.

Being mindful of the whole, the reason why you are and who you are happens with creative thought and activity. Am I advocating oil painting for veterinarians? Lunch time poetry slams for the business executive? Interpretive dance for bankers? Maybe.... But incorporating an artistic exercise routine into ones day needn't be lofty, odd or even time consuming. It needn't take us out of our comfort zone.

Here is a simple exercise that happens to be my favorite. For me, creativity is basically translation work. Or a math problem. And in the interest of practicing what I preach, I will be creative and use a math-y analogy instead of a language-y one just because it's a stretch.

Given x.  x = thing or concept.  y = unrelated thing or concept. Synthesize x with y to make x=y. 
Show your work.*

*I'm showing my work only because I am illustrating the process. During the day, I mostly do this in my busy, busy mind. However, I've found using a journal or notebook is extremely satisfying; especially if you're a doodler.

          x = victory  y = horses  make x (victory) = (y) horses

Victory is what one wants when one is in a battle. I am the simplest of soldiers. No special training. Enlisted man. A Private. A very private Private with imperfectly mastered skills learned at boot camp.The battle is tiring me and draining me of energy and hope - am I fighting completely alone? The enemy is larger, stronger, and very big. I feel before I hear. Rhythmic vibration on the ground. Something powerful is coming. The movement morphs into sound - the sound of a hundred horse cavalry. As the horses come closer, the enemy flees in the face this magnificent adversary. I stand on the now deserted hill alone., watching growing clouds of dust stirred up by the approaching hundred hooves And in the last few minutes before the reinforcements arrive, I plant a flag of victory in the bloodstained earth of the battlefield.

Therefore, victory = horses

Give it a try. Make the two things as disparate as possible. Don't be afraid of cliches - they can help break the ice. Consider leaving a comment or message with your results. I'd love to hear what you come up with - I'll get it. I'll recognize it. Because your thoughts began with the same fire that fuel mine.

P.S.  I'm getting into the challenge of this idea. Here's a proposition: I promise to synthesize any two words into a cohesive analogy or will send you one dozen home baked cookies - recipe of your choice. If I fail, you can email me contact information for cookie delivery. IF I fail. Post your challenge in the comments or on my facebook page.


  1. Dirt + Lightning. Try THAT on for size.

  2. Dirt as in salacious gossip "ya got any dirt on this senate candidate?" Dirt, rumor, can come out of the blue, suddenly destructive - like lightening - which is interesting and compelling to watch up until the point it becomes dangerous and hits you or something you love. Dirt = Lightening. You get cookies just for playing :)

  3. ooooo, I wanna play! Try "antlers" and "curtains". I like my cookies soft in the middle and crispy on the edges. Or dark choclates!!!!