Limited Creativity

I always have a lot of projects. Right now I’m embroidering a pillow, pressing flowers for mini frames to complete the display above the guest bed, perfecting my kayak stroke, volunteering as a grant writer and kitty litter cleaner-upper, reading 6 books and taking notes on tomes of yoga literature.

Oh yea, and looking for a job.

Yet my well of creativity is not bottomless. In fact, over the past few years I didn’t know where it had gone. A wonderful friend from back home inspired my leap into the blogosphere, and often spoke on her own site about what it takes to create.

A few years ago she and I talked about Jon Stewart’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air because one of his quotes resonated so deeply:

“I’m a real believer in that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don’t know what to do with yourself. But when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it.”

It can be ridiculously hard to keep a structure. Although I am a known lover of lists, writing a post from vacation in Quebec, or right now when it’s drop-dead gorgeous outside is difficult. When I don’t know what to say, or keep telling myself it’s not “good enough” then I just look at the schedule I set for myself and say: well, you have to do something.

And the words come. They may not be polished and shiny. They definitely aren’t the perfect face I want to put out there. But my structure tells me I still have to do it.

I’m seeing, slowly, that work I do honestly and of a great desire to be better is my overarching structure. To be gentle with myself, but balance it with standards I want to reach. To explore the breadth and wisdom both within and without; to rebuild and strengthen my roots so as to discover best how to branch out.

“The tree of knowledge has indeed yielded much fruit of great variety, sweet, poisonous, bitter, wholesome according to our use of it.

But is it not more imperative than ever that we cultivate the tree, that we nourish its roots?

And furthermore how dangerous is that knowledge to those who, ill at ease with themselves, would rather apply it to the manipulation of other people and things than to the improvement of their own persons.”

~ Yehudi Menuhin, Forward to Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar

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