March 12, 2017
"If there is a path before you, it is not your path" Joseph Campbell
I find it useful, for any creative endeavour, to have a look into the nature of creativity itself. My first caveat is that you must do this for yourself. Don't be lazy. Laziness is anathema to creativity in the long run. My second caveat is to choose your own metaphor for creativity. My third caveat is to define terms that get straight to the point. My last caveat is: you do not have to pursue a creative endeavour, it is your choice to make.
My metaphor: digging deep, mining creativity, archaeological exploration, sitting at the coalface, in the solitary darkness, buried, excavating, exploration, discovery.
These are my terms:
Path: There is no path.
True Creativity: sitting at the coal face of the unknown. Anything else is an illusion, a false creativity, a distraction.
Work: what you need to do and face right now. Do this work as it arises. Any shortcuts are shortcuts that are much harder to tackle later on. Mastery means facing what needs to be faced now, and what needs to be done now. Skills will develop if consistently applied and grappled with over time.
Discipline: "employing oneself assiduously to discover the way to the objective" Yagu Tajima no kami 1632 Inspiration: something I once stepped in.
There are no other terms. Everything else is a distraction and an illusion. Talk of the "stages of creativity" is a crutch, an attempt at structure, but such structure is like putting a ladder over a stream. Questions like "what is the purpose of my creativity?" and "what am I trying to communicate?" presuppose a philosophical inquiry into creativity that produces an aridity instead of fruit. To paraphrase the great Alan Watts, "What is the meaning of music?" "What is the purpose of dance?" Sounds deep, but these questions are futile and an avoidance of the real work. And what is stopping you from getting down to the real work? Most of this is distraction and avoidance, masked as procrastination.
An example. Let me ask myself this question now: "What is stopping me from doing the real work?"
I don't have the talent.
I don't have the skills.
I don't know what I want to say.
I can't choose a theme.
I have run dry.
I don't have time.
No one appreciates my work.
I don't have the discipline.
I can't get any recognition or traction with my work.
I can sort these out into illusions of my ego, which then shows me that what is blocking me are fear based, internalised projections. I can turn the rest into answers that help me progress.
The ego illusions are: I don't have the talent. No one appreciates my work. I can't get any recognition.
The solution to these is do the work!
The workable answers, the remainder above, turn into realistic solutions. Learn the skills. Explore, discover and work out what I want to say. Take time to explore and choose a theme. Give it a rest. Make time. Develop an understanding of what discipline means that works for me. Do these things and traction with my work will come.
So right away I can sort illusion from the real work in front of me right now. If I listen to my ego, I am listening to an illusion, and to fear. Why would I do this? Because it feels safe, it feels comfortable. It also gives me the belief that I have great potential, but what is potential if it is never realised? It is just potential. That is not creativity. It is insecurity. By facing the real work now, the gap between potential and reality is quickly realised, and the shock and pain of the thud to earth is a wakeup call. Insecurity is still there, but the need to feel secure lessens its grip eventually as I do the creative work, and this issue begins to recede into the background. Feeling secure is a need for safety, and need for the known and predictable. There is no art in that, and no creativity.
Darren J Harris
(copyright 2017 Darren J Harris)