Noise is everywhere. Noise wakes us from our rest. Noise accompanies us on our journeys to and from work. Noise bombards us on social media. It is everywhere. We take in the opinions of others constantly. There are those close to us who have ideas about what we “should” do. Then there are those further away, usually trying to sell us something, working hard to convince us they have the “answer” to all our problems, the one way we can achieve all we want.
Being decent human beings we listen politely then find ourselves full of anxiety about how we are to fulfil the expectations of who we ought to be and how we are to achieve our dream. Then we have time to create. We sit in front of our empty page or canvas, we arrive at our rehearsal, we pick up our instrument, ready to play. And we are stuck.
Instead of being a pleasurable, playful process where we explore what we have taken in around us in our lives and examine it with curiosity, wondering where it will lead, it is a painful plod towards a predetermined destination. The well-meaning comments of loved ones asking when we are going to win our first Oscar or get our book published becomes a weight around our necks. Every empty shelf blinks a reminder that we haven’t received a plethora of awards or become a celebrated artist. Even if we have, the awards just sit there, a frozen moment from a past achievement, our anxiety now being about whether we can recreate that magic.
The magical creation time we waited so long to have and looked forward to with such relish has become an exercise in watching the clock tick away and our hours drain away like sand through a timer. All the time the noise of the world and that clock pounds away in our head, telling us we are not enough, we are barren, we are worthless, we are lost.
At this point we can fall into a trap where we create ever more complex rituals to help us get “in the zone” where we can make something happen. We can only write if we have the correct pen or total silence for an unbroken three hours. The music will only visit us if we listen to the whole of “The Magic Flute” before we begin. Fear becomes our master and the possibility of stage fright robs us of all connection to the audience we once loved.
But what if I told you that I have been there but now I create all the time. I am writing this in the stolen minutes between cooking dinner and making sure the children are showering. Earlier today I recorded part of an audiobook, taking some time out to go to the gym and see my son’s show before finishing off and then taking the dog for a walk.
I wear my creativity lightly. It is play. It is fun. It gives me a chance to find out what I feel about something, to take myself by surprise. It is a joy. But it is the process that is a joy, not the finishing. Although I enjoy the pride of sending off a completed audiobook or putting the last full stop on a draft of a piece of writing that isn’t where my joy lies.
My joy is in the doing. In the being in the moment with my creation, in watching it unfold before me, in dancing with the universe to the music we are making together. It is in the unexpected connection with my fellow actor, the tears that turn to laughter, the rage that shifts curiously into shame. This is not something anyone can tell me to do or anything I can make happen. I simply turn up, ready, willing and full of interest and something happens because I am present. I am part of the equation. I am not directing it or controlling it, I am an essential ingredient.
The same is true for you as a creative. You are the means by which a creation comes into being, but you have to be available to it, as much as you can. If you are, you can be like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, channelling magic through you and playing joyfully at the same time as being full of wonder that such sorcery exists.
So how can we do this? “Be here now” is my mantra and one that is worth trying. Being here now is the essence of presence on stage, on the page, in a piece of music or art. We the artists are called to be available to the moment of creation, but we can’t be there if we are overwhelmed by the noise of the world. This mantra brings us into the here and now, connected to all that was and all that will be, strong in our presence. Over time it can become a new way of being.
But how can we make this our habit? Simply, we meditate. We practice being in the present moment with focus and intention when there are no distractions so that it becomes more usual for us. We listen when there is no noise so we can hear ourselves. That still, small voice inside us is the one that wants to guide us through our current project or on to our next creation, but it will not shout or even raise its voice.
And what it tells us may not be convenient. It probably won’t be in line with what is expected from us by others. It is probably a bit of a risk to even try. So why listen? Because it is our joy, our perspective, our niggling question that needs to be explored, our journey of life’s discovery not anyone else’s. The more personal we are, the more invested, the more we serve our own concerns the more of service we are to others.
That is why we create. To connect, to offer a new way of looking at something that has been bothering us. To put ourselves out there and ask, “anyone else?” To take that leap into faith, to hold our personal discoveries out to scrutiny is risky and we don’t want to do it alone. Which is why we need to listen for our guide and make sure we take our true selves along for the ride.
If you want to know more about how to meditate take a look at my earlier blog about how mindfulness boosts creativity and come and join my facebook group: Inspiring Thriving. If you’d like to delve deeper contact me and have a chat about how meditation can help guide and build your creative life.
In the meantime, have fun creating!