This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
Spent the past week and a half traveling. I left home ten days ago armed with an iPad and a stack of books, eager to learn, write, create somewhere new (as time permitted, of course). What I experienced instead was an overwhelming desire to step away. To enter into a period of creative waiting. There was, in fact, something brewing, a subject on which I hadn’t yet achieved sufficient clarity. So I rested on it.
Decided to (re)dedicate more of my writings to the articulation of my own experience. And focus less on trying to align my perceptions with Jung/Maslow/Rogers/Huxley et al. It’s amazing how strong the impulse to identify with thinkers of that caliber can be. But it is more important to me that I remain true. That I continue to strengthen my ability to trust the validity of my primary experiences. This is a far more courageous and creative act than I initially imagined.
But that’s what this is about. I’ve spent so much time reflecting on matters of self-actualization, transcendence, Being, etc., thinking I had to aim higher, improve, reach beyond myself, when I realized the answer was already embedded in my experience. And I’ve already said it. I just didn’t have enough confidence in what I was saying the first time.
Here’s what I know: Maslow is right about self-actualizing creativity. Huxley describes this same phenomenon in his discussions of the ways in which technological advancement dulls creativity and “specifically human progress.”
I found it necessary to distinguish ‘special talent creativeness’ from ‘self-actualizing (SA) creativeness’ which sprang much more directly from the personality, and which showed itself widely in the affairs of life, for instance, in a certain kind of humor. It looked like a tendency to do anything creatively: e.g., housekeeping, teaching, etc…Such people can see the fresh, the raw, the concrete, the ideographic, as well as the generic, the abstract, the rubricized, the categorized, and the classified. Consequently, they live far more in the real world of nature than in the verbalized world of concepts, abstractions, expectations, beliefs, and stereotypes… – A.H. Maslow
He’s right, and this kind of creativity is not the same as the divergent thinking kind. At least, it does not feel that way. It is not accompanied by heightened mental energy, the wild and wonderful proliferation of ideas, creative ecstasy, absorption. But it’s often expressed in rituals that are calm, meditative, humble, life-giving, playful, even prayerful. It’s an attitude. I first began to engage in this kind of creativity when I abandoned corporate life just over a decade ago. It just felt natural. As if I was rediscovering or reclaiming myself. And it was cooking that did it.
It was cooking that opened my eyes to the simple fact that I could use my creativity to reclaim my humanity. (I have described this all in detail previously). Even to transform simple, daily activities into the pursuit of higher values. A facet of my personality that seems to have evolved over a period of many years. This impetus to turn simple activities into soulful, creative endeavors. And it wasn’t always linear. But this kind of creativity is now a fundamental part of living for me. So necessary to who I am that I’ve questioned previously if everyday creativeness represented a kind of religion for me. Yes. These activities form a critical part of how my own myths and symbols are revealed to me. This is how I achieve feelings of stability, harmony, wholeness, bliss. This is how I become fully human. How I fashion myself.
And while I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking I need to somehow aim higher—to “fly,” so to speak—I can’t help but ask myself: Why do I need to fly when I’ve got two feet planted firmly on the ground?
…as always, T. Blake, for an incredible painting of Sandman Express II. Part III will be arriving soon.