For ten days I’m writing about what it really takes to be Highly Creative and whether greater opportunities make for greater Creativity. Last time, I wrote Spending More Time at the Office.
Highly Creative people search for the intellectual edge in their fields because that is where questions that have never been answered–by anyone, twinkle. But they don’t stay on the edge indefinitely. They gather all they know and step into true darkness looking for light.
When the giant Orion–of Homer’s epic The Odyssey, lost his sight, he took up his servant Cedalion and set him upon his shoulders to see for him. They walked together thousands of miles towards the rising sun-god Helios who restored Orion’s sight. The pair would never have reached the sun if they had stayed close to the giant Orion’s known world. Little Cedalion had to lead, because he could see.
Quantum physicist David Bohm said,
A [Creative] scientist cannot be similar to Einstein in the quality of creativity if he merely applies what Einstein did to new problems, or even varies, extends, and develops it so that it reveals its full implications in synthetic combinations with other theories already known. Nor, of course, would a scientist be creative merely reacting against Einstein’s work or by ignoring it altogether.
According to Bohm, the key to Creativity in science lies in perceiving the differences and similarities between Einstein’s work–or the work of other giants of science, and your own. Creative scientists take what they know and compare it to what they see.
The most Creative scientist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein saw in his imagination what it would be like to ride on a beam of light. His mind stayed on this picture for ten years. The picture held both his questions and his answers. Could I travel as fast as light? Could I travel faster? Einstein answered these questions with his Special Theory of Relativity.
Clarity and truth lie in what you see, not just for scientists, but for creative-types in every field.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love with Tuscany’s architecture when he lived near Florence. But he never designed a Tuscan-style home or office complex. Instead he went home, to the American Prairie, and saw its colors, contours and truths. Wright sought total integration within his designs. In his designs, buildings, furnishings and natural surroundings became a part of a unified, interrelated composition. This total integration produced a type of building new to human architecture and led to Wright’s recognition in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”.
Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.
Creative writers also step up to the edge of their field, but they often walk into a different kind of unknown–the unknown within the human heart. Literary editor Betsy Lerner says,
The more popular culture and the media fail to present the real pathos of our human struggle, the more opportunity there is more writers who are unafraid to present stories that speak emotional truth, or that make such intimate connection that briefly we become children again, listening with rapt attention, the satin binding of our blankets pulled up to our chins.
At a time when people are encouraged to follow their bliss, to pursue whatever makes them feel good, I suggest you stalk your demons.
If you are a writer, especially one who has been unable to make your work count or stick, you must grab your demons by the neck and face them down.
You must turn your ambivalence into something unequivocal.
Creators gather all they know and step into confusion and ambivalence, without or despite fear, looking for light. They walk into the unknown in the dark because Creation exists only there.