Follow by Email

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Spiritual Practice of...

Making Messes

Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results—the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process, and let whatever happens next happen without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do whatever it wants with you, regardless.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, creativity is messy. When you set out to create something, regardless of what it is, you're going to get messy—messy hands, messy clothes, messy room. When you work with your hands to create something, you cannot control the mess, because if you do, you will also be controlling the process. Creativity is a flowing thing, more like a mountain stream, than a crater lake. It runs into boulders and splashes over its banks, it gets muddy and then clear, it foams and stills. You have to let whatever is going to happen, happen and then worry about the mess.

I remember Sunday afternoons when I was a child, and my dad would make potato soup—his single claim to fame in the kitchen. So, you know I'm sure how to make potato soup—chop ham, or better still use a nice big meaty ham-bone, chop onions and garlic, and peel and chop potatoes. Put them into a big stockpot with enough broth to cover and simmer for a couple of hours. Simple, right? When my dad made potato soup, he somehow managed to destroy everything in the kitchen—pots and pans, utensils, counter tops, cutting boards, everything. There would be food burned onto the stove top, and slippery stuff on the floor and flung across back-splash tiles. His soup tasted delicious, but cleaning up behind him was a nightmare. The process was his joy—and he had my sister and me to clean up, so what the heck!

Trying to control a creative process makes the creation tight and somewhat contrived. I admire people who make things that are useful; there's a real need for that. But there's a difference between making something from a pattern, and allowing an organic process to take place out of which something is created. Both are fun, but only one is inspired. You can feel the difference when you see the two items side by side. One contains the creative energy of Eros, and one is nicely made, but doesn't always feel juicy. You know the difference.

When you set out to create something, do it in a place you don't mind getting messy. Allow the process to unfold, rather than trying to force it. Then get to work, invest yourself. Whatever you end up with may be imperfect, but it will be authentic. It will be an expression of you. What could be better than that?

                                                           In the Spirit,


No comments: