Location location location

The call to the creative life is a call to dignity, to a life of vulnerability and adventure and the call to a life that exquisite excitement and indeed ecstasy will often visit.*
John O’Donohue

Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.**

When it comes to unleashing creativity, whether art or artisanship, location is everything.

Testing and discovering what it is we really want to bring into the world is a place:

Discovering the right medium is often a tidal movement in the creative life of an individual. … Creativity can be inhibited by the wrong medium.^

When things become clearer, we may see possibilities where we are,
Or we may need to move:

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we begin from.^^

Finding the right people to sharpen our creativity is another place,
And who knows?
We might find another place,
Of creating something together that will outlast us:

many of us have a shot at creating experiences and projects whose effects can continue long after we are gone*^.

Here’s somewhere to begin.
identify three energising “locations” by keeping track of what you’re doing when you feel great energy in your body.
Add the why, who and when to your notes.

Do this for a few weeks and then aggregate the contents of your notes to identify larger areas of activity.
Name these and then identify the three that have the most energy for you.

Abstract activities from these to explore and play with.

*From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
**Proverbs 27:17;
^From Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds;
^^T. S. Eliot, quoted in Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
*^Victoria Labalme, from gapingvoid’s blog: Risk Forward: Legacy, Satisfaction and Greatness.

The story telling you

We see the world not as it is, but as we are.*
Steven Covey

we see the world, not as it is, but through a veil of perceptions**
Ken Robinson

These two quotes lined up to sound a serious caution.

Add another and the warning deepens:

We thinks we tell stories, but often stories tell us.^

Out from his writing experiences Robert McKee clarifies:

We realise our toughest task in life is self-analysis as we try to fathom our humanity and bring peace to the wars within.^^

John O’Donohue holds out hope for those who enter McKee’s space of self-reflection within a world we only see through our personal paradigms:

The imagination has a deep sense of irony. It is wide awake to the limitation of its own suggestions and showings.*^

It is hard work, to be sure,
For the business of keeping as open as we are able for as long as we can takes a lot of energy –
Our brains are burning calories and it is natural to try and conserve energy,
So we find shortcuts and build our worldviews.
Yet, whilst we may never break free from these stories telling us,
We can still alter them at a deeper level.

The writer who is also an artist Austin Kleon offers some direction when he writes:

The diary is the heart of my practice, the place where most of my work is made or at least first conceived.^*

A journal is a great place to be more open, curious, inquiring and imaginative,
But to make sure that this becomes more than your little worlds in ink and paper,
Invite along some people you don’t know to share from their worlds.

Here are mine from this morning,
Including some who have become “journaling friends”:
Kassia St Clair, Seth Godin, Bessel van der Kolk, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Rob Walker, Margareta Magnusson, as well as those I’ve quoted.

*Quoted in Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds;
^Rebecca Solnit, quote in Bernadette Jiwa’s What Great Storytellers Know;
^^From Robert McKee‘s newsletter: The Thrill of a Thriller;
*^From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^*From Austin Kleon’s blog: A walkthrough of my diary.

The place of purpose

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.*
Joseph Campbell

We’re always connected,
To work, to the world, to endless streams of stories.

Where is the place or time to disconnect
so that we might connect with ourselves
in silence and solitude?

A place and a time is best of all,
but where this is difficult, one or the other is more than enough.
If we find this too difficult or unpleasant a thought we must ask ourselves why.

The place of purpose is an infinite thing,
meant to be enjoined playfully,
Towards a revivification of imagination,
A sensorium of Soul through the fullness of our days:

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.**

It is something urgent,
Whether we have our place and time,
Or simply a place or a time.

Reconnecting with our purpose –
Or passion or calling or vocation or element or bliss –
There are many names:

Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.^

*Quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: The bliss station;
**William Butler Yeats, quoted in Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts’ The Hero’s Journey;
^Joseph Campbell, quoted in Austin Kleon’s blog: The bliss station.

A world without and a world within

Noticing is about letting yourself out into the world,
Rather than siphoning the world into you
In order to transmute it into words.

Verlyn Klinkenborg

Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.**
Rachel Carsons

Some want the world,
Or some larger piece of it.
Better for the world to have us entirely,
That a larger world form inside us,
A world we might share:

As Rilke says, ‘Hier su sein ist so viel – To be here is immense.’ Nowhere does the silence of the infinite lean so intensely as around the arm of a newly born infant. Once we arrive, we enter into the inheritance of everything that has preceded us; we become heirs to the world.^

*From Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing;
**Rachel Carsons, quoted in Maria Popova’s Figuring;
^From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus

Uniquely commonplace

Trauma is at the core of who are are as people. If we transform it, we can become unstoppable in what we’re trying to accomplish. If we don’t transform our trauma, then our lives become its by-produce.*
Ben Hardy

Trauma is our common experience.

Turn towards it and there is the possibility of transformation,
Turn away and it will likely ever haunt us.

Turn towards and we begin to free our imaginations:

We use imagination not to escape from reality but to join it, and this exhilarates us because of the distance between and an apprehension of the real.**

We collect our treasures held in common with others.
Our commonplaces, though, promise uniqueness:

Each one is unique to its creator’s particular interest but they almost always include passages found in other texts, sometimes accompanied by their compiler’s responses.^

From such common things, placed together
In new ways, emerges a uniqueness:

I don’t think of it as art – I just make things I like bigger, assuming that if I like them some other people might too. Some do, some don’t, and that’s alright too.^^

When we find each other, as I think we must,
then we create a communitas of possibility for others.
We all need help:

“Scenius”: a whole scene of people who are supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, speaking ideas, and contributing ideas.*^

We need what only you can bring.
You are a once in a lifetime possibility:

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through ay other medium and be lost.^*

*From Ben Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent;
**From Iris Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good;
^From Wikipedia: A Commonplace Book;
Corita Kent, from Austin Kleon’s blog: Corita Day;
*^Brian Eno; From Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work;
^*Martha Graham, from Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds.

Just a doodle 22

BOKETTO n. Gazing vacantly into the distance without really thinking about anything specific. It’s nice that the Japanese think so highly of thinking about nothing much at all that they actually gave it a name. With the overcrowded and hurried lives we often lead, it can refresh the mind to go wander, with no destination in particular.*
Ella Frances Sanders

*From Ella Frances Sanders’ Lost in Translation.

A sensual life

That which we call imagination is from the first an attribute of the senses themselves; imagination is not a separate mental faculty (as we so often assume) but is rather the way the senses themselves have of throwing themselves beyond what is immediately given, in order to make tentative contact with the other sides of things that we do not sense directly, with the hidden or invisible aspects of the sensible.*
David Abram

The imagination keeps the heart young. When the imagination is alive, the life remains youthful.**
John O’Donohue

A sensual world
invites us to smell, touch, hear, fast, see
our imaginations into life-in-all-its-fullness.

To be open and not closed
to the more that will surround us today,
In the natural world – of which we are a part –
And the worlds of our makings.

May we imagine more today than yesterday,
And more tomorrow than today:

The first great wonder at the world is big in me.^

*Quoted in Maria Popova’s The Marginalian: Ecologist and Philosopher David Abram on the Language of Nature and the Secret Wisdom of the More-Than-Human World;
**From John O’Donohue’s Divine Beauty;
^Margaret Wise Brown, quoted in Bruce Handy’s Wild Things.

If I would be granted one wish

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.*
Eleanor Roosevelt

Start by learning to recognise what interests you.
Most people have been taught that what they notice doesn’t matter,
So they never learn how to notice,
Not even what interests them.**

Verlyn Klinkenborg

It often feels that I am only beginning to get the hang of living
inside this life.

What if I could begin again?
Knowing what I know now,
What would I leave out and avoid?
What would I leave in and why?

If it were somehow possible to make this wish,
Would I take it from the genie?

Probably not.

Somehow this mix of good, bad and ugly
has brought me here,
And if I were to tinker with any of that,
I suspect I may not be here today –
Doing what I love to do –
But somewhere else entirely.

Walking on earth is a miracle! We do not have to walk in space or on water to experience a miracle. The real miracle is to be awake in the present moment. Walking on the tree earth, we can realise the wonder of being alive.^

*Quoted in Ben Hardy’s Personality isn’t Permanent;
**From Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several short sentences about writing;
^Thich Naht Hahn, quoted in Mary Ruth Broz and Barbara Flynn’s Midwives of an Unnamed Future.