Nope. No creativity here.

Do you think of yourself as creative?

When Maryann posed this question, my answer came right away.  Loud and clear.

Nope!  I’m not creative at all.  Even though I desperately want to be.

Instead of creative, I’m analytical, responsible, boring, practical.  I’m…. conflicted.

On the one hand, I know I’m creative.  Everyone is.  It’s part of what makes us human.  Whenever I question what is, bring about change, solve a problem, overcome a potential obstacle, or come up with a new way of doing something, that’s creativity at work.  By this yardstick, I’m creative all the time.

For example, I’m an awesome cook.  I can whip up something tasty out of what looks like nothing.  (Gordon Elliott used to have a TV show where he randomly knocked on someone’s door at dinner time and cooked an amazing meal from whatever they had on hand.  I can totally do that.) But to me, this isn’t especially creative.  I simply have a certain level of knowledge and skill in this area so I can apply what I know about cooking technique, flavors, and food chemistry on the fly.  With good results.

I think a lot of the things we humans do all the time taps into this type of creativity.

And at the same time I also believe that this stuff – using our ingenuity to live our lives – doesn’t really count as being creative.  Being creative is loaded for me.

I have a lot of internal rules about what it means to be creative.  Conditions of creativity…

Creativity is a talent; you either have it or you don’t.

Whatever level of creativity you have is what you have.  You might get more skilled at expressing it, but you don’t get more creative.

There’s no social support for being creative.  Everyone (not you or me, of course) thinks creative people are irresponsible, flighty, and unable to function normally in society.

If you don’t use it, you lose it.  Even if you were creative as a child, if you haven’t kept it up you won’t be able to be creative as an adult.

Being creative takes a tremendous amount of time and energy – think tortured artist who spends 36 hours in his studio not sleeping, not eating, and painting the masterpiece of the century.  Being creative requires large blocks of uninterrupted time.

Being creative requires inspiration. You don’t just sit down and decide to be creative.  You can’t consciously access creativity; you’re either in the zone or you’re not.

Creativity is about bringing something completely original into the world. If what you’re doing is using what’s already in the world in a new way, it’s not art.  It’s craft and thus, not creative.  Singing is not creative because it’s merely an interpretation of music that’s already been written.  A performance, rather than a creation.

Creativity must involve arty things – painting, drawing, sculpture, writing, etc.  I’m not a creative person because I don’t have the skills to make something – i.e. I don’t draw or paint. I don’t know how to use a camera. I don’t sculpt.  My writing sucks.  Therefore, I’m not creative.

Creative people are good at whatever arty thing they’re doing.  Creativity is validated by other people judging the product of it good.

These beliefs I have about creativity and about why I’m not creative keep me from trying things.  Secret Play Date, for example.  Because, OMG, that’s for Creative People and I’m so not creative.

Not.

There’s definitely more here for me to explore…… creatively, of course.

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Graduation

My niece graduates from high school this week.  This is what I wrote in her graduation card:

In the end, it’s all going to be about how much you smiled, how much you laughed, and how much you enjoyed your life.  Do it your way, change the world, and have a blast!

 

I barely remember what it felt like to have my whole life ahead of me, a life ripe with Possibility. At 18, I didn’t grasp its significance.  Today, nearly 30 years later, it seems epic.

Some days I feel like I’m one bad mood away from a mid-life crisis.  The number of doors that are now closed to me, some shut more tightly than others, is a lot bigger than the number of doors still open.  The mantras in my head sound more like You’re Too Old, It’s Too Late than Go For it! You Can Do It!

Lately I’ve been at a crossroads of sorts.  I sense that it’s time to grow into myself, but I can’t clearly see that future me.   I’ve been grappling with not knowing what I want, not knowing what’s next for me or what to do next, and feeling like I should know.  I don’t think I ever knew.  My best friend in grade school knew she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up.  A quick Google search just now tells me that she did it.  I’ve always envied those who are blessed with a strong personal compass.  My personal compass spins freely, like I’m always at the North Pole.

I’m one of those people to whom life just happened.  It’s a great life, for sure.  But I don’t feel like I chose it.  I went to college because I was supposed to, got a job to pay for college, which led to me dropping out of college since the full time employee/part time student thing wasn’t working for me.  When opportunities presented themselves I either took them or I didn’t but I’ve never tried to make anything happen for myself.  All that personal development stuff about goals just pisses me off and depresses me.

Life happened and here I am.

And yet … I wonder …

What if I took my own advice and started over?

Do it your way, change the world, and have a blast…..

 

What would that look like?

 

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Open loop energy

There’s a lot of open loop energy in my life right now.

Looking around my workspace I see the evidence of projects in progress. Lots of projects in progress.  The pile of receipts to be filed. Another pile of receipts to be sorted and tallied.  Music that I’m working on.  My niece’s graduation announcement left out on my desk to remind me I want to send a card. Catalog opened to the page showing the pants I want to order that I haven’t decided if I’m feeling flush enough to buy.  Old receipts and junk mail that needs to be shredded.  Towels to be folded.  Dishes soaking in the sink to be washed.  A bag of winter shoes for the storage space upstairs.  The list goes on.   And that’s just the stuff I can see without turning my head.

David Allen says in his book, Getting Things Done, that most people, if they’re honest with themselves, have something like 100 to 300 open loops in their life at any one time.  Some ridiculously huge number, when you think about it.  That’s probably also true for me if you count all the things I promised myself I’d do, I might wanna do, and thought about doing (which he does). But I’m not ready to own that number.  Not at all.  How do they keep the open loop energy from driving them nuts? (Which, if you’re a GTD fan, is the point.)

So many things vying for my time and attention.  I can’t give love to them all.

And that’s the thing.

Some part of me thinks there’s this magical place called Done.  I’m not there yet and I want to be.  I keep trying to get there but I never arrive.  Oh the things I’ll do when I get to Done. Magical!

I know it doesn’t work that way and I just can’t give it up.  There is no Done.  Until I’m dead.

This isn’t news to anyone.  Not even me.  My thinky brain is totally on board with this.  The rest of me goes Gaaahhhh! when I notice the open loop energy.

This shouldn’t be a problem, right?  Lots of people have a whole lot more to do than I do and they aren’t drowning in open loop energy.  David Allen and his disciples have GTD so they aren’t drowning in open loop energy.  It’s just me.  And I’m not always drowning in it.  Often though.

Clearly, I haven’t yet learned how to deal.

What are the qualities and essence of this place called Done?  Spaciousness.  Freedom.   Play.  Serenity.  Choice.  Possibility.

How can I bring more of these qualities into my life right now?  Yes, now.

Maybe the clutter is bothering me more than usual today.  A 400 square foot apartment is not very big. (For reference, the average Best Western hotel room is about 525 square feet.) Things left lying around are in your face all the time.  Multiple things lying around is cacophonous.

There’s no white space.  We’re pretty careful about bringing things into our space but after many  years of 2 people living and working here, we’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff.  We’re bursting at the seams.  Even though I’ve been working on my Spaciousness Project for a few weeks.

No system for planting a flag that I can come back to when I stop work on a project in the middle of it. Like the physical equivalent of a Drafts folder.  No trustworthy reminder system and no trust in myself that I’d remember to use it even if I had one.  Graduation announcements and the like must be left in plain sight to remind me that I need to do something.

Looks like I need to spend an hour or so just finishing things, closing some open loops, which will also tidy the place up a bit.  Then perhaps some brainstorming about systems that support me.

Comment zen: We’re all getting better at being human.  Lively discussion is most welcome. Meanness is not. Let’s play nice, ‘kay?

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If it ain’t broke…

I recently rediscovered Barbara Sher’s excellent book, Wishcraft, which has been yellowing on my bookshelf forever.  One of the exercises in this book has you imagining your ideal world and how it would be if the world catered to who you are and how you operate, not the other way around.  This has gotten me thinking about all the time and energy I currently spend trying to fix myself and my life.

I’m not very tidy.  I’m kinda lazy.  I tend to procrastinate.  I don’t like asking people for money even when they owe it to me.  What if that was the way the world worked?  And instead of thinking I’m a complete asshat because of those things, what if it was just normal and the world worked around me?

Don’t like asking people for money?  Don’t have to.  The money that I’m owed just appears in my bank account.

Don’t like to be tidy?  No problem.  There are gnomes to pick up after me and lots of space for things so that not being organized isn’t a problem.  Or the world comes pre-installed with monkey-proof organizational systems so it’s not possible not to use them and being tidy and organized is easy, no thinking about it required.

Oh man, I cannot believe how much fun this is!

And what if feeding myself always worked like a restaurant so that people eating together didn’t have to consider the efficiencies of preparing and cleaning up after 2 separate meals if they didn’t want to eat the same thing?  What if not wanting to eat the same thing as the rest of my family wasn’t a problem?  What if the world was set up so that was how it was?  Not eating the same thing was the default and if other people want to eat what I’m eating, that’s okay too.

What if it was okay that I weigh what I do?  What if it was okay that I post or don’t post to the blog? What if my eating and exercise habits, including my tendency to do too much of the former and too little of the latter, were okay?  What if it was okay to sleep until my body is ready to get up?

How would it be if I stopped trying to fix myself?

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Giant blogging slogging permission slip

What if everything I believe, and by believe I mean know to be true, about blogging is wrong?

What if all that stuff about writing for one’s readers, giving useful information, having something profound to say, making the reader’s experience worthwhile, being prolific, having lots of good content is wrong?  Or, if not empirically wrong, what if it’s wrong for me?

All those rules, which I’m sure are quite worthwhile, awaken my You’re Not Good Enough Monsters.  And even though I don’t keep Jager in the house, they usually bring their own, trash the place, and I’m left with the mess.

You see, I’m not a very good writer.  I can’t think of anything to say and what I do say seems interesting only to me.  I can drive myself nuts trying to think of something that qualifies as compelling content.  I don’t know you or what you’re interested in.  I don’t have any way of knowing if anything I write here will be useful or entertaining to someone else.  And I can drive myself nuts trying to guess.  I know I’ve read some pretty mundane blog posts and found something useful there.  So who am I to say what’s useful to someone else?

This morning I realized that what I really want is permission to do it wrong.  Like Shiva Nata, where that’s kinda the point.

What if I simply declare that this is the place where I write badly?

It’s blogging therapy. For Me. And that’s it.

I don’t promise to be interesting or funny.  I don’t promise to write in complete sentences or use correct grammar.  I don’t promise to make sense.  At all. I don’t promise to get links right or format my posts, because that’s the part I hate.  My posts don’t have to have an introduction or conclusion.  They don’t even have to have a point.  And I most certainly do not promise to be brief.

I’m not writing for you, dear reader, if there is one, I’m writing for Me.

This is Me practicing hitting the Publish button no matter what and unapologetically adding to the plethora of absolute drivel already on the internet.  I’m joining the party.  I belong!

Wow! I’m breathing a giant sigh of relief just writing this….Aaaah…

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