We are approaching a special time of year, a time of happenings both celestial and cerebral.
As most everyone knows, this is the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere where the days are shortest and darkest. It is also a time of internal reflection and outward ceremony, and I believe this is related to the lack of light and color in the environment.
One half of the world leans away from the Sun and withdraws into itself under the cloak of darkness.
The world is brown and grey but our hearts sing of life and light.
We are in the balance of destruction and creation, where the season of old things fades away but the season of new has not yet begun.
We make up for this lack of light and color by creating it ourselves.
Many religions have celebrations at this time of year, celebrations where people draw close, bright colors are everywhere, light is nourished and protected, music and food overflow.
What does this have to do with creativity?
For something to be born, to be created, something else must pass away. As I have written earlier, creativity is about decision, from the Latin decidire, meaning to cut away.
This is the time of year for pruning, cutting away the old to make way for the new.
In this quiet and inward-turning time, one can hear oneself think. Skittish ideas stop flitting around and perch on branches and look you in the eye.
Recently, we explored the idea of the adjacent possible, the notion that at any moment there is a spider-web of paths leading away from where one stands, and the action of each step creates a new set of paths.
Awareness of this continuously renewing world of possibilities is the key to creativity.
We are continuously writing and rewriting our narratives. Reality is a bit slippery and diaphanous, despite impressions of solidity and permanence.
Given this continuously shifting reality, it’s a good idea to keep track of where one has been.
In Greek mythology, Theseus in the labyrinth of the Minotaur brought along a ball of thread to map his steps so he could live to tell his story of victory.
To be able to explore the labyrinth of the adjacent possible requires a cutting away, a removal of past encumbrances, a cleaning of the mud off of one’s existential boots so as to more easily walk on new paths.
This is the task that awaits creative people, should they choose to accept it.
I have found that this time of year is rich in reflection. Healing and strengthening happen in its quiet recesses.
What appears static is actually energetic, a coiling of energies. This time is pregnant with possibility.
On my own personal journey of creativity, I received advance copies of my new book, The Artist’s Journey: Creativity Reflection Journal.
There is nothing like a physical book in one’s own hands to make something feel real, slippery or not.
I wrote this book to guide and encourage people on their creative journey, to be the ball of thread that helps them find their way and to cultivate awareness of the adjacent possible in the creative process. It contains a set of participatory reflections to develop insight into creativity.
I chose to launch this book at this time of year because I believe this is a pivotal time in ones’ creative cycle, motivated by the internal and external dynamics I talked about above.
The sunlight may be wan and weak, but one can still read.
As you set out on new paths, let this book be your guide to keep track of your journey and to reflect upon it in future quiet times, times that will come just as surely as the Earth orbits around the Sun.
With gratitude from my studio to yours,