Thursday, May 14, 2009

Creating Beyond Ego

I love creative genius. I delight in participating in the creative process and feel frustrated when the creative juices running through me crash into obstacles. With the me-centered structure of the human mind coloring every thought word and action, I, like most people, have seen myself as the center of my creative endeavors. For a number of years, however, that sense of authorship has been crumbling. The sense of creative control and mastery I once thought was mine has given way to the experience of being a wave in the creative ocean of living.

Instead, it appears more authentic to own up to the fact that my personal viewpoint is not the source, course and manifestation of the creative process. As an architect, my work is the continuation of a line of designers and builders that stretches into the dim past when someone used some branches to make a primal shelter for a sacred fire. In the future, there will be countless architects and builders struggling with the same issues of making a roof both waterproof and inspiring. With each design choice, I draw on the past and peer into future possibilities. Yet, I do this through a cultural lens that I learned from those who came before me. Look and any design magazine and you will see that most of the buildings of a certain era share qualities of design that reflect the mindset of that era.

Beyond that, I daily inherit countless other factors that shape my creative work. The language I speak, my gender, where I live on the planet, the food I eat, etc. are not of my making, but they influence my thinking and actions. The more I look at this situation the more I realize that the me I hold as so individual and separate has little individuality and no separateness. 

To my sense of creative identity, this is terrifying and confusing. It's terrifying because my identify is based in the idea that separateness protects me and makes my actions worthwhile. It's confusing because I'm unsure how to create from a place that is not self-centered.

In response, I've abandoned goal-oriented projects. The bright ideas that once spurred me to engage in writing a book that might take months or years of sweat and to complete now dissolve almost as soon as they arise. Now, I open to the creative flow and see where it takes me. Currently, something is developing that, interestingly enough, may be the most original work I've done. Why I'm pursuing this, I don't know. Fantasies of saving the world while gaining fame and fortune seem childish. They dilute the task at hand. I seem to be creating simply because that's what I do. I'm less like the image of the genius artist in his studio and more like an apple tree producing fruit.

In this time of so many sincere efforts to save the planet, the children and other valuable causes, I wonder if we might be more effective if we checked our ego-centered notions of creativity and healing at the door, sensed our individual waves of identity as movements in the ocean of living, and let the genuine currents moving within carry us away.

1 comment:

  1. I just read a great article in today's NY Times Magazine that you should see. Yes, I did say the dreaded s word! Here is the link:
    Fits in with your comments in this blog entry. Love, Jane