Van Gogh – a creative talent sustained over a lifetime, in spite of vast misfortune and little reward.
In the previous post I touched upon the subject of Creativity – personifying her as I see her – exposing her fickle nature. Her tendency to use us at her will, wringing every last imaginative drop out of us and then abusing us and abandoning us when she grows weary of us. Leaving us with the impression that we are unworthy of her faithful and consistent attention and her inventive charms.
It is a common complaint and a valid observation from artists, musicians, writers – all of you creative ones – that creative inspiration comes fleetingly at times and is difficult to sustain for the long haul. There are those who say that it need only visit you once to make its mark and give you a “15 minutes of fame” distinction. As in the case of the song writer who writes the song that everyone on the planet is humming which sells a million or more CD’s. Or the author of a New York Times best selling book who then finds that he/she does not have a second best selling book in his/her lifetime – that happens a lot. But hey, maybe you should be thrilled being a one-hit wonder, because it is better than no hit at all. It puts you on the map. People respect that and it takes you a long way in the game of life.
But still, the thing is, creativity is such a flaky wench. She is never dependable. How can you make the most of her visits and keep her engaged and happy so that she moves right in and stays a long while? Perhaps for a lifetime?
Let us consider the importance of the inner voice. The strength of an inner voice can be tapped into, guiding the creative ones, the artist for example, past enormous earthly noise. This ability to follow an illuminating inner compass allows the genius soul of the artist to triumph over distraction, focus and live on forever through work that is aligned perfectly with the purpose of that artist and his universe during his particularly shining, rarified point in history. His lifetime.
If you, whatever type of creative being that you are, can maintain a consistent level of fine creativity over a long period of time then perhaps you have had the experience of feeling uncomfortable accepting all the credit and praise for your own fine achievements. Creativity seems a separate entity; apart from you; she is the shining one, the genius. Quite honestly, you might feel you were a mere vehicle for the expression of your greatest creative ideas – you were just the means for giving them life. They happened to you rather than by you. You feel that some of your finest work and your most original ideas were effortless and not entirely of your own mind – so “involuntarily” accomplished that they seemed to flow through you from somewhere above you as if your actions were being orchestrated by some far more gifted conductor – the beautiful, illusive, divine Creativity God. You felt like a puppet channeling gifts from beyond, strings attached, arms flying in all the right directions, but totally under the control of another entity.
If you are an artist who can tap into this “flow” of creativity it is more a surprise to you than anyone else that your best work is born through the strokes of your own paintbrush or pen. In fact, it is difficult for you to remember how the process unfolded, as you painted or wrote or composed a song, because initially this “flow” experience was beyond common understanding and unlike anything that had ever happened to you, the creative person, when it first occurred. It was of course your work, it was your style, it was your time and effort; it was your paint and your canvas and it was done in your studio space, but the inspiration was so obviously not of this world and the result so much better than your own mere earthly thoughts could have planned to achieve. When this happens, as the work is progressing, the hours fly by, energy does not wane, the steps taken toward completion are automatic and effortless; this level of inspired work is achieved in far less time than other paintings labored over for weeks. And yet it results in your most inspired work; it is the work of your soul in sync with the universe. Creativity was there in the room, but you were more aware, more present, more inspired than ever, receiving messages from your soul.
Ken Robinson, in his brilliant book about creativity titled Out Of Our Minds, Learning To Be Creative, says on page 154:
“Creative processes draw from all areas of human consciousness. They are not strictly logical nor are they wholly emotional. The reason why creativity often proceeds by intuitive leaps is precisely that it draws from areas of mind and consciousness that are not wholly regulated by rational thought.”
On page 155 he continues:
“The term ‘flow’ has been used to describe peak performances. These are times when we are immersed in something that completely engages our creative capabilities and draws equally from our knowledge, feelings and intuitive powers. These peak performances typically occur when someone is working in their element at the peak of their performance. In this respect, creativity involves particular attitudes and being able to access deep personal resources. There is a further factor, which is difficult to describe. Perhaps the best word for this is passion.”
This magic happens in other creative endeavors besides art – musicians such as Sting speak about having no remembrance of how a particularly brilliant song was written or truly understanding the profound meaning of his own lyrics until years later… Inventors suddenly know what must be adjusted for the efficiency of their revolutionary new whiz-bang idea. Or for another creatively inspired one, a great solution comes by way of a dream. In any case, you had an epiphany – a realization.
A creative epiphany can arrive in a sudden shudder of realization, or a slow unfolding of obscure information that forms a finished puzzle as it reveals itself in your mind. It can arrive via an inner voice from your soul that is most assuredly audible in your mind’s ear as it offers you instant advice or a fast solution to a problem just when you need it. Something seemingly unrelated, unsophisticated and of humble origin might trigger the breakthrough of epiphany required for your missing solution to be heard. Epiphanies come in many costumes. They are not proud; whatever type of energy carries them along is just fine for their purposes. Because whether they arrive in elegant style with pomp and circumstance or in the most common of events, they always bring discovery and illumination, as if a light bulb was suddenly turned on, clearing the shadows of our mind. Epiphany is always offering a previously over-looked solution or a startling jolt of new information or a missing ingredient essential to your creative process thereby clarifying your understanding about something you urgently needed to know. Epiphany always knows what information to bring to you if you will listen. Just listen.
I believe this alignment with the universe, when a brilliant message of creative realization is received and then executed by an aware mind, is a CREATIVE EPIPHANY.
Epiphany will always be Creativity’s best friend, her illumination, her guardian angel, her candle in the darkness. Epiphany always brings news. Creativity must keep an open mind for Epiphany’s message – so she lives in the now, receptive and eager for that special visitor. She listens for her, she watches for her, she can feel the vibration of her impending arrival whether by a thunderous, earthquake shifting of thought or as subtle information, delivered like the slightest flutter of a butterfly’s wing, discernible amid worldly chaos. When Epiphany arrives, you know it. She has no substitute – she is never mistaken for anyone but herself. All the other crazy voices in your head step aside to facilitate her entrance. She brings full body chills to Creativity.
Creativity dwells in our soul and travels through our hearts and our minds. She enters from the open door of the universe carrying free samples of Inspiration. She gets you out of bed in the morning; she calls for your attention. She sings the music of ideas. She chants mantras of encouragement. She meditates while performing humble rituals. She is the reason for wondering. She challenges you to do more – to continue at your work, your hobby, your garden, your learning, your love of life – and to discover your authentic calling. Creativity is actually always there – she never leaves – but you must be aware and open to her song of epiphany.
Portions of this blog were excerpted from Jo’s book, THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations available on Amazon.com
link to book www.epiphanysfriends.com
Hi Jo! (I see in your About section that Jo is your preferred name.) This is a really compelling two-part post, and you give us readers a lot to think about. Your book sounds fascinating.
I was particularly struck by your discussion of flow. I see you cite Sir Kenneth Robinson. I assume you’re also aware of the flow theory of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: http://flowpsychology.com/flow-of-life/flow-theory/ He’s written a few books on this subject and his lessons mesh nicely with yours.
FYI I love this line: “[C]reativity is such a flaky wench.” 🙂
Well thank you so much – I am honored to have your comments!
This subject of creativity fascinates me and constantly surprises me in the ways in which it presents itself through people – particularly the way it decides to show up in families.
My family is blessed with a strong creative gene and we are a bunch of eccentric, fun and sorta crazy people and proud of it.Some of us are accomplished and some not so much, but we are all very creative. Lucky be us!
I too was really taken by this 2 part post. Having struggled with “flaky wench” (I love this too) lately, this post helps so much. It was an epiphany in itself to read, “Epiphany IS Creativity’s best friend”! Yes, even though you have reminded me of this before, I needed to read this again. Those last two paragraphs are pure poetry. Anyone who has not read Jo’s books should get on Amazon right this minute!
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oh.my.word. this is what i’ve been searching for… for.so.very.long. thank you for being here.
Thank you so very much! Your recent attention to my blog has made me very happy – I feel a bit “undiscovered” – have never won any awards, etc but words like yours are extremely encouraging!