Essays on Creative Process.
Reflections on art, culture and meaning.
Creative Process: Recharge and Renew
No matter how we approach New Year’s Eve–with dazzling exuberance, quiet reserve or indifference–it’s hard to escape the sense that another cycle of life has ended. We navigate the portal to a new year, catching our collective breath. Sometimes the passage seems clogged with the air of uncertainty. Whether it be radical or mild, endings test our acumen and ingenuity. In regard to the creative process, we may be full-term pregnant with stakes that require evaluation and decision.
Turbulent endings may ultimately lead to powerful breakthroughs and renewal. Cultural evolution bears this out, as do our personal histories if we are aligned with growth. In face of challenges, the passage demands particular attention to the inner level of creating. In order to resolve issues that appear to exist outside, we need to look within. This essay contains a distillation of optimistic perspectives about endings that lead toward renewal in the creative process:
The Outer View:
During vulnerable times in the creative process, outer circumstances can grip the mind’s attention too firmly. In this state, the outer level can appear daunting—a phenomenon which exists beyond us, and beyond our direct influence. We feel out of control, and emotional discomfort sets in.
The Aerial View:
The discomfort we feel is actually a “call” that signals new opportunity. In order to decipher the signal, we need to pull our perceptions back from outer circumstances. This is not to encourage denial. But by observing present challenges of the creative process with a longer lens on our personal history, the obstacles are brought down to size. From this aerial view, we recall past endings survived, learning and confidence gained, circumstances that, at the time, felt even more dramatic than these. Past evidence reveals that we ourselves are larger than circumstances, which are fleeting.
The Inner View:
Recognition is required to understand and benefit from the call. Realizing we are larger than they, circumstances can no longer hold our creative process hostage. When we experience tension, lack and frustration, it’s tempting to panic or blame an outer condition. But that which appears as captor is, in truth,
only a reflector. We forget that to look within is the wisest response. Circumstances, people and events often cannot be controlled. But going within to shift an attitude or belief is where we do have control. Doing so will lead to new actions, and the shifting will be revealed in the reflection of events.
The Long View:
No matter how much value we’ve instilled in our work, it may be time to further enhance the value of our services. Aiming to create more income or celebrity is missing the mark. In contrast, aiming to create more value in service to others is building trust and attracting income. Most likely, you are now seeking more value for the dollars you are willing to spend. By extension, others are too. It’s wise to glance away from nervous preoccupation with the ephemeral, and re-focus. To create more genuine value for the people we serve may be challenging. It may take time to navigate a tangle of this year’s endings. But patience combined with an aerial view will lead to improved conditions.
Endings lead to new beginnings: easily stated. But this year’s end seems to call for special renewal– on the inner level, where the most significant questions reside. I remember reading once a phrase that struck home: ‘The inner subjective is primary.’ We could call this little pearl one of nature’s laws. It suggests that what we create in our minds and hearts is the primary generator for creating outcomes in the law of probability. By extension, outer results are secondary. During stressful times, it’s reassuring to recall the inward realm as our refuge and primary place of power. Reflecting and sorting there awhile is the most powerful response to rough endings, and the first key to life-giving renewal.
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*Essay by Barbara Bowen of GatewaysCoaching.com - the definitive source for artists and creative careers in transition. Contact Barbara to empower your creative process and for help with your career goals. She would love to hear from you.*
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