Thursday, June 12, 2014

Finding a Path to A More Creative Life

One of the things I think about all the time—not saying that I might possibly tend to be just the tiniest bit obsessive, oh, no!—is how to live a more creative life. Not just for me, but for everyone, especially the amazingly creative people I meet at our retreats. For so many of those people, creativity happens only when they actively plan for it, clearing space and making room in their ultra-busy lives for a slice of time to create what they love. And while it's totally wonderful that they manage to do that, I can't help but dream of ways to make that unnecessary, that blocking out minutes and rearranging schedules and plotting for just one free day a month, maybe-if-I'm-lucky.

To that end, I've been reading books and watching TED talks and taking notes and thinking about this: how can we have lives that not only allow creative time and space, but *encourage* it, spark it, nurture it?

I think a good place to start might be with a book I just finished, one recommended to me by a reader.
World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down, by Christian McEwen (Bauhan Publishing, 2011), makes me think of a window nook with a pile of pillows and a soft quilt on a snowy winter day. You have a cup of cocoa and a warm lamp and hours to read and dream and doze, taking your time to sink into a world where there IS time, time enough for what your soul needs most.
Check your library, or you can find the book here at I bought mine used, and you can get one, with shipping, for less than $10.

(And, oh, wow: in looking at my copy just now, I see it's been signed by the author. Cool!)

You can see all my little pink Post-It tabs up there marking passages that intrigued me. The chapters are:
1—Hurry Sickness
2—The Infinitely Healing Conversation
3—Child Time
4—In Praise of Walking
5—The Art of Looking
6—The Intensest Rendezvous
7—A Feast of Words
8—The Space Between
9—Learning to Pause
10—Across the Bridge of Dreams
11—A Universe of Stories
12—A Day So Happy

From the front flap: Making room for creativity and slowing down more fully, [sic] is not about squeezing yet another activity into an already overflowing schedule or tossing another ball into a deluge of obligations. It's about  scheduling fewer activities, dropping some of the balls, and slowing down—creating what Christian McEwen so eloquently describes as "a rich sufficiency of time."

Although the author does provide suggestions at the end of each chapter, such as this one, for the chapter on "Hurry Sickness":

—Make a list of slow activities: a long train ride, a hand-written letter, gardening, etc. If possible, do at least one such "slow thing" every week.

the book is less a how-to manual than a way to start thinking about a slower, more creative life, one that welcomes downtime, spaces of freedom, moments of emptiness. For me, it's a validation that the way of life I'm coming to see as vital to me—slower, with less "stuff" and fewer commitments—is important rather than (as those voices in my head insist) "lazy."

It's not necessarily one of those shake-up books that will change your life, but it may help you change the way you think about your life. If you do read it, I'd love to hear what you think of it, what it made you think about in your own creative life, what ways we can all make our day-to-day lives more closely parallel those brilliant moments of creativity we share when we're together.


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