As an artist and writer I fully experience my creativity. When I am creating something I am totally focused on what I am doing; I am in the zone. Everything else slips away and life is just me and what I am working on. Creative energy runs through me and I willingly go along for the ride.
I have a deep need for creative perfection, but I’ve also learned over the years to recognize when a piece is done, to instinctively know when it’s time to stop, to put down my tools and release myself from the creative surge and to also let go of my attachment to the work I have done. There is deep satisfaction in both the creative time and the release from it; there is balance.
I recently listened to a segment of The Moth in which a New York Times reporter ventured to Afghanistan after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. He went in search of art. All forms of art had been banned while the Taliban ruled, everything from painting to poetry and music. For five years no one was allowed to produce art, to sing, to act, or even own a musical instrument; to do so would have meant arrest or even death.
By a series of synchronistic events the reporter met a man who was painting miniatures in the traditional style. He asked him why he wasn’t painting something new, expressing the energy of now and the future that was looming before him and his people. The artist told the reporter that he could not paint the future until he had completed the past, that his people were not free to move forward if they did not fully know their past. It struck me. The artist knew the value of recapitulation; only in fully knowing where he had been could he go forward with any sense of release or contentment. He knew he had to recreate what had been, as perfectly as possible, but he also knew that a time would arrive when he would leave the past and move on.
I have recently been pondering my own process of creativity. I notice how that need for perfection is so honed that it takes over. I become totally focused on what I am doing and often the rest of my life goes unattended. I do the minimum, but only what absolutely needs doing. I am often reluctant to stop at the end of the day, to have anything interfere. There have been times in my life when I was able to totally live the creative life, but as much as I loved it I now know that it was a life out of balance.
Needling thoughts that I must attend to the piles of clutter, to the unattended that gets forgotten after a while, had been stirring all through the winter months. I’d look around and tell myself that I had to attend to this pile of stuff and that pile of stuff. When I’m done with this, I’d say, when I’m done with that. Now it’s almost summer. I’ve been making inroads into clearing the clutter, into clearing also the energy stuck in that clutter, making a concerted effort to get rid of what I no longer use or need and to organize that which has value so that my life can flow better. My need for perfection is seeping out of the dedicated creative time into all the time now. Life, I have decided, is my new art form.
I still seek a certain kind of perfection, not to be perfect because I know I am not, but to achieve the impeccability that I have mostly assigned to my creative endeavors. Where before I might leave dishes in the sink to do later while I head off to do something creative, I now finish the kitchen clean-up before I turn to something else. I do it with impeccability. I want to walk into a beautiful kitchen later in the day, to feel good in my home, to experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that is energetically fulfilling. In so doing I learn the value of completion of one task before beginning a new one. This is what the Afghani artist was telling the reporter; one must fully complete if one is to be fully energetically available for new creative endeavors.
I’ve noticed that even in clearing out my cluttered closet I achieve a sense of renewal. The more I clear, the more space I create, space in which energy can finally flow freely and naturally without obstacles or blockages.
In clearing, I create a new reality for myself, more balanced and in alignment with the energy of the universe. Each time I clear something I feel myself become more energetically alive and available for what life has in store.
Try it; it really works,
The story I heard on The Moth: A Time of Hope