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From away to home

Oh to be able to draw like a child

I cannot believe it has been six months since I last wrote here. During my absence I have repeatedly asked myself why I stopped posting anything and what’s prevented me from getting back into it. My mind kept telling me that a blog needed to be fed regularly for it to achieve its purpose (who needs pressure placed on them by others, I do a great job of this all by myself). In this case ‘food’ equates to content and for me this generally never happens on a whim – it demands my time, thought and energy. I have even spent time wondering whether my blog had reached its natural end. I questioned its purpose and the commitment it required of me. The simple solution was to remove my blog from the web. However, something prevented me from doing this. A voice deep within kept nagging at me saying, “Hang in there, this too will pass and you’ll be back home soon.”

The ability to write seemed to have deserted me yet the desire, and the need to reflect and write, was still present. I stopped writing here because I felt I had nothing to say that was of any significance and I didn’t want to waste my time nor that of any of my readers. The old saying “If you have nothing to say, say nothing at all” seemed particularly pertinent.

Over these last six months I haven’t felt whole because I haven’t been doing the things that I need to do to sustain me on an ongoing basis. As each day passed I seemed to stray further from my ‘home’ and a disconnect began to develop between what I was doing and what I wanted to be doing.

Very quickly the days turned into weeks and then into months.

During this time I have been hassled (in a friendly way of course) by some of my more regular readers (yes, I appear to have some), especially my sister Valentina.

“I am over the bag story,” she has been saying to me, “I’m waiting for something new.”

I promised I would write something but I kept finding excuses for not delivering anything. Unfortunately the usual prompts weren’t working their magic on me.

During the last few weeks a new energy and confidence has begun to emerge resulting in the feeling that something is about to change. Then today I watched Benjamin Zander’s TED talk entitled Classical music with shining eyes. A blast of emotion flooded me. As I sat transfixed on the screen in front of me the passion that flowed from Benjamin Zander reminded me of a comment by Cassandra Gaisford’s in her blog Powerful Creativity:

Passionate people are like vitamins for our souls. People who do what they love with all their heart radiate an invisible ray of energy that touches all those who stand in its path. Passionate people make what they do seem so easy. Yet it takes great courage, hard work and often sacrifice to pursue ones true calling.

At the end of this talk I felt like I had taken an extra strength dose of vitamins and it felt fantastic. I hope it has a similar effect on you …

Benjamin Zander reminded me what has been missing in my life – the ability to engage my creativity. I want my eyes to shine all the time, not just sometimes. The saddest thing for me is that I don’t get to be creative in my paid work. Consequently it can feel so unfulfilling.

I used to play the piano – actually I sat the exams to be able to teach the piano – yet the last time I sat at a piano to play was about 20 years ago. I don’t sew anymore. I don’t embroider or knit or crochet either. I don’t play. When I listen to music these days it is always when I am doing something else. I am not writing. I’m not taking as many photos as before. I even feel my cooking has become boring. I’m not even being very creative in my thinking these days. Possibilities have been taken over by responsibilities.  Life seems to have become functional as a way of surviving the pressures placed on us daily.  I am always in a rush; always trying to fit more and more into my life. Watching this talk was the first time in a long time that I devoted my full attention to only one thing and didn’t try to multi-task. I sat there listening to what Benjamin Zander was saying and I let the music he played infuse my whole being. I allowed myself to absorb the experience and I was really surprised the way my body reacted.

My experience is not unique. Our world is changing dramatically as we deal with the unparalleled global economic crisis. It is time for us to turn to our internal resources and get back to basics. It is creativity in all its guises that is needed now more than ever before.

Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life talks about there being a creative code hard wired into our imaginations similar to our genetic code found in our DNA. This creative code determines the forms we work in, the stories we tell and how we tell them. Twyla emphasises how  important it is that we all get a handle of our creative identity:

If you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in your work. You begin to see the “story” that you’re trying to tell; why you do the things you do (both positive and self-destructive); where you are strong and where you are weak (which prevents lots of false starts), and how you see the world and function in it. (p.44)

Twyla has devised a questionnaire as an honest self-appraisal process to help us discover what matters to us. There are no right or wrong answers to this questionnaire. She suggests that you respond quickly and instinctively to each question and not dawdle.

Your Creative Autobiography

  1. What is the first creative moment you remember?
  2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
  3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
  4. What made it great in your mind?
  5. What is the dumbest idea?
  6. What made it stupid?
  7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
  8. What is your creative ambition?
  9. What are the obstacles to this ambition?
  10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
  11. How do you begin your day?
  12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
  13. Describe your first successful creative act.
  14. Describe your second successful creative act.
  15. Compare them.
  16. What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?
  17. Which artists do you admire most?
  18. Why are they your role models?
  19. What do you and your role models have in common?
  20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
  21. Who is your muse?
  22. Define muse.
  23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
  24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
  25. When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
  26. When you work, do you love the process or the result?
  27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
  28. What is your idea creative activity?
  29. What is your greatest fear?
  30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
  31. Which of your answers would you most like to change?
  32. What is your idea of mastery?
  33. What is your greatest dream?

Source

Tharp, T. (2006). The Creative Habit:Learn It and Use It For Life. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, pp.45-46.

The whole intention of completing this questionnaire is to learn when we are playing to our strengths and when we are sticking our neck out. Going out of our comfort zone is scary yet it provides the possibility for growth. We also need to be aware of what we definitely should not be doing to save ourselves pain and anguish further down the track.

Benjamin Zander made my eyes shine today and I thank him for that. I love classical music. I particularly  love Chopin and always will. What I am more excited about is that the fire within has been reignited. Benjamin Zander unknowingly helped me come from away to home.

I’m left pondering one more question: How would I walk, how would I talk, if I was doing what I loved all the time?

I can imagine what it would be like. I can see all the possibilities. I even feel it. My challenge now is to make it happen.

I’m glad to be “home”.

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One Response to “From away to home”

  1. on 24 Feb 2009 at 8:56 am Grace Bower

    Welcome back!! And thank you for the inspiration and the creativity questionairre. I have already printed it out and will indulge myself with some time today – so you don’t know how many you will awaken the longing in today.

    Thankyou for your honesty and authenticity. I’m sure many will identify with you -it’s just that you had the courage to put it into words. there may be others who didn’t quite know what was wrong and you’ve identified that for them so now they can also spring into action.

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