Creativity when you least expect it
In the creative thinking process the mind can experience concepts or thoughts that are uplifting, inspiring, or plainly unexpected. The experience of creativity could be manifested in activities where one may least expect it.
Let us think of the common experience of procrastination. I found myself procrastinating quite a bit in starting to write this article until I realized how creative I was being by creating excuses to procrastinate. There always seemed to be something more important to do to fill the time I would have taken to write this. Although I knew about this opportunity for some weeks now as the deadline was moved ahead quite a bit, I creatively kept inching towards the new deadline with procrastination while in my heart I really wanted to write something.
Perhaps my mind did not feel creative enough to sit down and get my fingers to type anything meaningful. That in itself was a creative act of procrastination that I finally decided to express here. We have all heard of, or have had creative excuses to procrastinate or even avoid responsibilities in many walks of life. Finding ways to skip school, work or other daily routines that may not always be the most fun or fulfilling, can be a very creative exercise. We all have heard the once creative excuse for the student who did not do his homework: “The dog ate my homework”. This now trite excuse I am sure has been expanded upon and modernized in ways like:”My hard drive crashed” or “My laser printer ran out of toner.”
Other unexpected manifestations of creativity can be seen in exercise although it may sometimes look or even feel boring. When running in a long distance race for instance, one must think of ways to keep the energy high and the inspiration level strong enough to endure the tiredness and possible pain and other problems that may arise. We have all heard of creative problem solving in other walks of life. In a long race one may have to react quickly and convincingly in creative ways as they encounter situations and problems that may try to stop their progress at every moment.
One example from an experience I had many years ago was when I was trying to run a 31 mile training run for my 31st birthday. It was late at night and I was not feeling that well. I decided to ride my bicycle 31 miles instead so as to get it over with more quickly and go to bed so I can get up and go to work in the morning. I felt this was a creative way to get around the 31 miles of running although in my heart I really wanted to run the miles for my birthday which was becoming a tradition with me at the time.
After a two hour bike ride I felt like I should run at least a few laps of the 3 mile loop I was on. I tried to find ways to convince myself to run the 31 miles anyway without trying to rationalize all the obvious reasons why I should not do it. It was 3:00 in the morning by then, I had a cold, I had to work in the morning, I already rode 31 miles and I was a bit tired. All this made sense to me but still in my heart I wanted to run the 31 miles. I had to start some creative problem solving quickly before surrendering to logic and rational thinking.
I decided to try and utilize some of the things I learned from meditation through the years to that point. If I could rid my mind of thoughts perhaps I could experience more inspiration and energy that would keep me going for another few hours. Since creative energy and creativity come from the Creator then I would try to tap in on some of that creative inspiration as I ran. So I looked at the dark sky where I observed the moon and the stars. Through rhythmical breathing and conscious focusing I tried to get rid of all thoughts about time and just identify with the infinite space which we are part of. As I silently tried to experience the spectacle of the vast sky and infinite Universe in which we live, my quiet mind did not resist and instead some creative thoughts starting coming to me.
I realized that as I looked upon the moon that it was also doing ‘laps’ around the earth and it has been doing this for billions of years. The earth we are on is also going around and around in circles for billions of years without stopping or hesitation. Everything is spinning with it, even the microscopic electrons in the atoms, etc. We are not separate from all this. We are part of this whole amazing spinning system, larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. So instead of separating myself from it with my mind I tried to feel the creative energy which was being produced around me at every second. As I circled the course over and over I realized that this creative energy which was not being blocked by limited mind anymore was giving me the strength and joy to complete the 31 miles that in my heart I wanted to do originally.
This form of creativity which may not have a tangible manifestation nevertheless was an obvious experience of creative energy that allowed me to do something my mind was resisting, thus allowing me to solve this dilemma in ways unexpected. In the creative arts of writing, painting, music, etc. one may get mental blocks that do not allow the creative energy to flow freely. If one can surrender the thoughts and limiting mind to higher realities through concentration and meditation then creativity is bound to flow more freely.
We see then that creativity can be manifested in the creative arts as well as in other unexpected walks of life as long as the source of creativity is tapped in some form or another. According to Sri Chinmoy, who himself tapped into and manifested an enormous amount of creativity in every field of endeavor he undertook his whole life, “Creativity does not mean that one has to write poems or articles, or compose songs. Creativity means one’s inner concern for the expansion of what he is or what he has. When one consciously wants to go beyond his capacity and beyond his achievement, only then do we find real creativity, only then can creativity have its proper value, worth and purpose.”
With this very meaningful statement in mind, let us all go about life invoking the creative spirit which springs from the source of creativity and can feed us at every moment. Again in the words of Sri Chinmoy, “Where does one find the source of creativity? If one wants his creation to be permanent and eternal, then that creation must come from the soul—not from the mind, not from the vital, not even from the heart. In the heart, in the mind, in the vital and even in the gross physical, one can also see creativity, but the achievements of that creativity can never be lasting. It is only the soul’s creativity that can be abiding.”(Excerpts from ‘Illumination-Fruits’ by Sri Chinmoy)