What is creativity? It’s intuitive, sometimes illogical. The creative space is that space entered where I’m not sure where it will go. It’s open, with possibilities. A flow that I move into inspired by a knowing, some kind of faith that the direction I’m moving in is where I need to go to find something out.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” describes the outcomes of some wide ranging research he undertook to discover what makes people happy. He found that people felt most elevated while they were in what he refers to as a state of flow. A state of being immersed in a ‘rewarding pursuit’, the pursuit being challenging, but not too challenging so it causes stress. Rather, it encourages focus and that internal space we enter when we’re focused. That creative space.
He also talks about how this state is one that is often missed out on in our society. He puts forward the idea that we move through our day out of touch with a sense of what’s really happening in our bodies and with our emotions. We bounce between two extremes – feeling anxious and pressured by obligations during the workday and then feeling passive and bored in moments of leisure. He proposes we challenge this way of existing.
I am a passionate knitter. I love wool – the texture and the colours. It inspires me. The smell reminds of a sheep, an animal, it breathes and provides warmth. When I knit I just like to knit, without a pattern. For me that’s all I want from knitting. To use it like a meditation, an exploration of colour, texture, patterns, time and space. Because of this I have many many long strips of knitted pieces. Some I use as scarves, some to just have hanging around to look at and touch and they keep me warm.
Knitting has been a method for me to wonder about things. All that time sitting and using my senses of touch, smell, movement, focus and vision inspires me to consider life. Mathematics plays a part in knitting, numbers, their meaning, the use of numbers to play with to create patterns in the wool. Counting, missing stitches, adding stitches – it all creates a pattern. I’ve had some real light bulb moments while knitting – about big stuff – physics, the cycle of life, nature v. nurture. On and on. At the same time I feel more relaxed and at ease, wondering and knitting. When done I feel refreshed, inspired, completed.
I’ve always felt that it’s the boundaries we push or work within that really encourages creativity. Not just doing what we feel like when we feel like it, more like exploring ourselves in relation to what is presented, be it a project, a conversation, a relationship. It’s tuning in to what happens when…, to how do I respond given this moment and this situation.., what if I did it this way..?
Everyone is different, with different histories, interests, and innate methods of expression. Living life creatively is to push your own boundaries, to explore who you are and how you feel. Put yourself out there to know when is best for you to stay within. It’s all learning and growing. This takes focus, commitment, an enquiring mind and an interest in yourself and your life.
The beauty of living creatively is that creativity is all about adapting, flowing, changing, inventing, reworking. Through testing and noticing, we come to feel into when we need to hold ‘em, to choose be still and quiet. And when we need to act or challenge.
Be part of the process, take back the reigns. Say goodbye to passivity with gratitude and hello to life with attitude!