Drought or Flood?

Just a little house keeping first…

Yes, I have updated my blog with a new theme. I hope it didn’t throw you too badly.  I think it’s clean and easy on the eyes.  Let me know what you think of the new look or if there are any glitches when you view it.  Thanks all.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Creativity ebbs and flows, a tidal surge of ideas eventually withdraws.  There are times when we are faced with a drought of ideas as the sands of writers’ block pit away at our confidence grain by grain. The white glare of an empty, sneering canvas or a sheet of staff paper sans notes, each daring us to make a mark, any mark at all.  It’s been happening as long as man has been creating. The empty corner of a cave wall, the unadorned ceiling of a chapel, parchment and quill waiting for the words of a tragedy or comedy to take shape; that empty space always mocking the creative.

drought 2
The other side of that coin is when the ideas flow so effortlessly that we seem to be merely a conduit, an innocent bystander. There is nothing so satisfying as when the spigot is turned on. We call it being in the zone, Devine inspiration, genius.  On days like that it is almost embarrassing how easily every thing comes.  When all is so effortless we likely agree with Steve Martin when he sings (que the banjo, please), “…and the most amazing thing to me is, I get paid for doing this!”

Last week I was chatting with commuting cohort Wayne Truax who made an interesting observation.  First of all, I found out that he is a woodworker with a workshop in his home and he’ll initiate a new project when the muse whispers in his ear. He admitted, however, that the desire to build furniture is not very urgent theses days.  When he was at a different job he spent much more time among the sawdust and wood shavings. He noticed a direct correlation between what went on at the office and in the workshop.  When there was meaningful, fulfilling work on the job there was little need to take solace in shaping, fitting and finishing lumber, and when things weren’t so peachy at work he would lose himself in woodworking.

We look for fulfillment where ever we can. We want to believe that what we do at work, at home, what we bring to a relationship or when creating is appreciated and valued.  We want to feel good about what we do. So it is no wonder that Wayne would look for value and satisfaction in creating furniture when those ingredients were absent at work.

I have worked for the same agency for 30 years.  That’s a scary thought for many but for me it has been three decades of being well treated and respected, and while there have been ups and downs with the kinds of challenges laid in front of me I have to say that for 30 years I have been content and have felt like my contributions are appreciated. So, if Wayne’s corollary rhythm held true for me I wouldn’t have been very creative outside of the office these past 30 years, which hasn’t been the case. I think we all look for inspiration and motivation in different forms and for different reasons. We each have our own catalyst.

Two years ago I lost my mother and the year-and-a-half leading up to and beyond that day was a tumultuous one. We were dealing with her failing health from 3,000 miles away.  It was during that time that I found myself writing a book and heavily into creating some of the most successful fine art pieces that I have produced.  So in a way, like Wayne, I was looking for an escape from a place that did not feel good. I think that we tend to turn away from those situations that we have less control over, that leave us feeling taken advantage of or under appreciated. We instead turn towards the types of things that we have complete control over, that bring us joy and a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment.

My son is a musician.  He takes solace in music; listening to it, playing it or composing it. My wife is an artist and she will draw, paint or knit.  I write, create art and sometimes play the dulcimer. Wayne makes furniture.  A member of a boy scout troop that I am a part of ties flies and goes fishing with them, his brother has a love for model trains, a neighbor of mine loves to cook, some of my son’s friends get together to make movies.  There are endless ways and places to find fulfillment. But my question is why do we wait until we are miserable somewhere else before we turn to doing what we truly love? Go out today and do something you love…


5 comments on “Drought or Flood?

  1. I write to escape. Life has been hectic lately and even if I’m not inspired, I jump into writing a story. It also helps me feel like I have purpose. Where I don’t feel appreciated at work, I feel (mostly) appreciated by those who read what I write.

    Lovely post.

  2. Your friend is not wrong, adversity and seeking an escape from the world around us is a powerful part of the creative process and can lead to some amazing things – it’s why heartbreak and sorrow are considered (cliche or not, your call) such a corner-stone of the truly great creatives.
    That said, it is a trope, a reality, but not a rule. One can be a creative conduit and do so while living a mostly happy life with little real terrible sadness or devastating loss to make that genius shine.
    But it helps because it’s at the low moment when seeking the light that I think we make connections and see things in ways that we can’t when content. It plays into a theme I love of the sweet never being as sweet without the sour in a way.

    Oh and you are also dead-on about the drought and flood – one can persevere as many folks I’ve met said and write everyday and hone your craft and all, but the stuff you come up with when the muse strikes you is incomparable if one is honest.


  3. Reblogged this on The Sardonic Scribbler. and commented:
    I really felt like sharing this post because the basic ideas it espouses connect to a lot of how creativity works. Some things I agree with and some I don’t but it’s worth reading and my own comment on the original post follows the reblog link.

  4. Hi, may I use your picture in a newsletter I am preparing? Thanks, Eric

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