August 9, 2017

Synchonicities: Do Nothing

As I said in last week's post, I have an assignment to do nothing. Doing nothing has many benefits, but the specific goal for the assignment is creativity. Before the task was assigned, however, the synchronicities began aligning.

1. While at the library - I do love a good library -  reading the winter 2017 volume of Creative Nonfiction, I ran across the following passage. It is from an article and series of interviews by Susan Bruns Rowe entitled Tricks of the Trade: How to Have Fun on the Job. The quote is from the interview with writer Abigail Thomas.
"We do better when we're not trying so hard. There is nothing more deadening to creativity than the grim determination to write. Doing absolutely nothing helps. Keep quiet. Take note of what you notice. See what happens. Get out of the way. Stop Thinking. Wait for the unlikely pair to couple. Take naps. Especially take naps. If something strikes you while you're beginning to drift off (and it will), get up immediately and write it down. For me, painting is a wonderful way of using a different part of what's left of my brain.  I just wait for the accident, wait for the thing to reveal itself to me. I'm NOT in charge." - Abigail Thomas
2. I started re-reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her conceit is that creative ideas, inspirations, exist independently and actively seek human collaborators to see them through to fruition. Think of the ideas as existing in the collective unconscious. An idea comes knocking on your door, wanting with all it's might to collaborate with you. If you don't pay attention, if you're too busy to notice, or if you do notice and tell the idea no, it will leave to seek a more receptive collaborator. But if you are still enough to be receptive and accept the contract to work with the idea - oh how I love this part - synchronicities will begin to crop up everywhere.

3. The monthly Magic of Myth email arrived. I glanced at it long enough to absorb that the theme for the month is creativity and that the assignment is to do nothing. For a couple weeks, I didn't dive into the materials any deeper than that first gleaning.

4. The same day the assignment arrived via email, an article entitled Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively popped up in my Odd Bird Studio facebook feed. "Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable busyness."

5. Soon afterwards, another synchronous facebook post cropped up, a passage from David Whyte's book Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. Not only was the post about "rest," it reminded me of this title that had fallen off my radar. "We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world..."

For good measure, after diving into the assignment materials, here's a couple of reinforcement articles shared by my classmates:
7.  10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings (item #4 in particular)
The photo above is an image of the contents of the second skinny drawer in this cabinet, my pared down studio.

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