In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in the moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety, and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, and with it came weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again.
― Anaïs Nin
The Cycle of Creativity
Creativity is cyclical - at least in my life it is. Days and weeks and months go by with the humming of ideas too many to grasp and bring to fruition. Then, it stops. The well runs dry. I become barren; ideas don’t exist, days and weeks and months pass lacking spark. My existence is endless repetition, endless boredom. Then, the cycle repeats itself. Somehow, as if by magic, the impetus and motivation mysteriously reappear.
So, what do I do in the downtime? “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity,” sayeth T.S. Eliot. I definitely feel anxious when I hit the downside of this process. I am in that place right now. Despite knowing that it will pass, I am compelled to mitigate the lack of motivation by doing things. I do things to inspire the return of the muse.
Taking Action to Recapture Creativity
Battling the tedium, I took a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I travelled to the places of my youth. I visited the edge of the earth. Creativity requires seclusion. In solitude, I hiked through the ancient Hoh Rainforest. There, amidst the boundless ancient arboreal majesty, my mind could focus on colors, textures, smells, and the fecundity of nature. I traversed nearly 30 miles of trails and coastlines in a week. It was quiet. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. The anxiety faded.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I also visited the bustling city of Seattle. Seattle is a feast for the eyes – from the craziness of Pike Place Market to the heat of the glass blowing studios to the amazing exhibits of Dale Chihily’s organic sculptures. Sometimes, the anonymity of the city is good for the soul. I am no one.
I am home now, and writing this blog, still waiting for the provocation to spur me into some creative action. Maybe not today, but it is nearing consciousness. As the unknown author says: “make something, even if it sucks.”
Hold on. Watch this space.