Journeying Into The Labyrinth
Last week’s blog post, Cycles of Creativity, touched upon the ideas of creativity, reflection, and the special potency of this dark time of year in the northern hemisphere.
This is a time of paradox, of contrast between the inner and the outer experience. What could be a time of moroseness and sadness or even hibernation can also be a time of rebirth and quiet joy.
In some places, the land is blanketed by snow, lending a pervasive silence- a softening and quieting of life’s cycles. Relative stillness pervades parts of the earth.
An invitation to go inward and reflect upon your life and your art.
It’s also a time to nourish the creativity of your inner artist.
It’s a time to journey into the labyrinth of the unknown.
It’s time to say YES to the Adjacent Possible, a multitude of shimmering realities just beyond arms’ reach that can be activated and accessed by the power of decision, an act that shatters a wall of isolation and opens new worlds to explore.
A story of arms’ reach and decision comes to mind in an old parable illuminating the difference between Heaven and Hell.
In Hell, people are seated in front of a groaning board of succulent and fragrant meats. Brimming flagons of wine and trays piled high with exotic spiced sweets complete the picture of the banquet.
Yet there is something odd about the gathering. Each of the guest’s arms are strapped to a board such that they cannot bend their elbows, let alone undo the straps on their boards with their other hand.
The attendees of the banquet gnash their teeth and starve, they become wan and sallow as they cannot feed themselves.
The food remains untouched and grows cold.
In Heaven, the picture looks exactly the same at first glance.
But upon closer inspection, one sees a vibrant dinner party filled with guests conversing passionately about wide-ranging topics. Their rosy complexions belie a deep satisfaction. They’re animated and sated, fortified by the scrumptious food.
But how do they nourish themselves with immobilized arms?
They feed each other.
Feeding your creativity does not happen alone. Creativity is a reflection of your life and is central to feeling alive.
Creativity is fueled by connection- the connection of disparate ideas, the connection to yourself and the connection to others.
Humans are social animals. They’ve been known to die from isolation or lack of human touch and bonding, such as infants with failure to thrive in Romanian orphanages studied by Rutter et al. Some of the most elegant work in psychology has to do with healthy versus disrupted attachment, as described by John Bowlby, the father of attachment theory.
We live in a communal reality. This may be why we are here at all, why we’ve survived. It’s been postulated that the reason homo sapiens prevailed over the stronger and more capable Neanderthals is that they were better at working together.
To foster creativity in yourself, your associates, and the world in general requires reaching out beyond yourself. This might take the form of a conversation or a brainstorming session or a collaborative art work.
This is a time to reflect and honor your sources of creativity- works of art that have moved you, books that made a difference, and people and their ideas and acts that have inspired and formed your life.
Give thanks, inwardly and outwardly. These are the true gifts of the season.
Also think about your own aspirations and beliefs.
Many people are seated at the banquet of life, but they have tied boards to their own arms and are hungry for nourishment.
This self-inhibitory behavior is what inspired me to write the Creativity Reflection Journal.
As a psychiatrist, I have seen hundreds of flavors of self-inhibiting behavior fueled by self limiting beliefs. As an artist, I have thought long and hard about how these limiting beliefs and behaviors manifest in the creative process.
It took me two years to synthesize the book from these two disparate streams of knowledge (psychiatry and art), many conversations with my partner Dr. Bruce Sawhill, and the slow cogitation of time. I am finally happy with the result and ready to release it to the world.
It will have been worth it if I can untie a few boards.
P.S. Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
P.S.S The book is ready for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Pre-order your copy before January 7, 2020 and register at nancyhillis.com/bigcreativity for the free Creativity Immersion course that’s happening in February. Go HERE to find out more.