Sunday, November 15, 2009

135) boosting creativity

the literary life 11/15/09

On Friday after work I headed over to the local Barnes and Noble, got myself a raspberry tea, and grabbed a couple of magazines off the shelf: one a writer's magazine and the other, Psychology Today. Taking a seat in the bookstore cafe, I began flipping through the psychology mag. The cover story was about boosting creativity, and considering how depleted and zoned out I can feel on a Friday evening after a week of intensive work, the title seemed to resonate. I didn't read it word for word. I skimmed. But it did tap into some reservoir of hope inside me. I felt a sense of possibility. Of change. Of newness. This feeling is something I found easier to tap into years ago. However, it's still possible for me to connect with it frequently, only it's become more fragile. Just a bad hour can zap it. Anyway, I sipped my cold, sweet tea and let my mind wander. I felt the beginning of a poem emerge somewhere deep inside me.

I'm fascinated by the evolution of creativity and the kinds of life conditions that inspire such creativity. I think my creativity is most in danger when my life stagnates-or when I feel stuck and overwhelmed. I'm somebody who needs stability, a sense of security, the illusion of permanence. But at the same time, if I'm overwhelmed by stress and responsibility and work, some of that inner spark suffers. This year at the school it's been challenging because I've got 35 more students than usual. Our photocopy machines keep dying. Our piles of grading never thin. At the same time, there seems to be more and more accountability. How to help my creativity thrive amidst the reality of challenging conditions: the work, the exhaustion, the endless labor...?

Anyway, Friday evening, I felt a bit of light creeping in while surveying this article. This made me think, the potential for creativity is always there beneath the layers of our lives--the endless demands and chores. And even when we feel stuck, we can always make different or new choices with our lives. How did I end up choosing a career that demands so much of my creative energy? And, for the artist, is it better to choose a career that demands creative thinking or provides a break from it? Knowing me, I'd probably like to be doing something creative during my 9-5. But maybe at a slower, less frazzled pace than my week can sometimes be. This semester has been one of my most challenging so far.

Figuring out what the best conditions are for nurturing our creativity might be like finding the right environment for that one stubborn plant that struggles to grow... the inner creative is highly sensitive and picky. I'm coming to see how important my creative life is to my personal happiness.

Here's an online link to the article on creativity in case anyone's interested:

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