Saturday, August 21, 2021

Calm in the Storm


Yesterday, I asked my dad what was the secret to his long life.  He is 97 and he said simply, "Don't die."

And then he gave me his famous smile, a little twinkle in his Irish eyes and added, "be lucky."

 And I do feel very lucky.

I suspect the real answer to his longevity is his ability to stay calm, even in a storm.  One of his favorite sayings is "don't panic."  Just last week, our CO2 alarm started screeching and well, I did panic.  I called the fuel people.  They said, call 911.  I called 911.  The fire department arrived, searching for signs of CO2.  As it turned out, there was no CO2--it just a faulty detector.  

And today, as we prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Henri, he once again tells me not to panic.  It takes up too much energy, he tells me.  So, we will not panic.  We will be calm and simply prepare. 

So, what does this have to do with creativity?

Well, when you don't panic, when you stay calm, you are more creative.  You give your mind the time to wander down circuitous paths and discover unexpected things.  You don't feel the pressure to make things happen. 

Rather, you meander.  And out of meandering comes all sorts of wonderful and unexpected rewards.

With this in mind, your creative prompt for this week is to take a creative journey with absolutely no destination in mind.  Begin by trying out an art form that is completely new to you.  Something that you think you're quite bad at, such as singing or painting or writing or playing ukulele or tap dancing. 

Now, go ahead and be terrible.  But, stay calm.  Do not panic. Laugh at yourself.

Next, return to your favorite tried-and-true art form.  Bring that silliness, that sense of newness and uncertainty into your work.

Here's what will happen--you will find yourself with Beginner's Mind.  You will bring the joy back into your work and you'll feel calmer.  

And who knows, perhaps you'll live to be 97!





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