Friday, 29 November 2013

Do Nothing or Go around in Circles

It seems to me that we creatives get so busy busy busy its hard to slow down and appreciate what we've achieved, done or even are doing.

I'm suffering from a surplus of stress, anxiety, and general busy-ness right now. So after listening to a particularly inspiring lecture earlier this week, I decided I needed time to 'do nothing'. Right now.

As Oscar Wilde says "To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual"

If we take a step back in time, and think of all great artists (when I say artists I mean all creatives) you begin to remember that time, space and thought are provided for creative inspiration.
Too often in this day of connectivity 24/7 and fame orientated mind sets its easy for the creative individual to get lost and forget that nothing is a part of our creative process. Nothing, or rather time spent doing nothing in particular is crucial to fuel our creative fires.

As when the fire goes out dumping fuel on it will not help in the slightest. Or rather coffee can only get you so far!

Writers need to fantasise
Actors need to feel
Painters need to think
Directors need to watch

We all need this crucial time to just sit/walk and let the world go past.

Recently I was wonderfully surprised at the Paul Klee exhibition happening at the Tate Modern. It was fantastic, to see this artist who I had no idea about (yep I called him kl-ee not kl-ay). His method of work though, was inspiring. He would meditate on his paintings, smoking, watching and thinking. He'd spend hours watching and 'inner listening' then would add a touch of colour here, a pencil line there....

Meditating, taking time to think and let the inspiration come? Well, I'm terrible at this! I agree its the hardest thing to do. Make time to do nothing. But what about my list of 10 million different things and projects that were due last week?!

I have realised that a lot of what we do as creative people is fuelled by this idea of "busyness". This affects not only me, but when I think of my industry friends and contacts we all are so busy all the time we can rarely meet up for a chat!
What is the point of all this busyness? Are we just running in circles and avoiding whats underneath?

Dr Burton, who wrote a wonderful article called "Why its so Difficult to Do Nothing", which I highly suggest you read. He described the difficulty as stemming from Manic Defence. "The manic defence is the tendency, when presented with uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, to distract the conscious mind either with a flurry of activity or with the opposite thoughts or feelings"

As Dr Burton writes: "Indeed, the essence of the manic defence is to prevent feelings of helplessness and despair from entering the conscious mind by occupying it with opposite feelings of euphoria, purposeful activity, and omnipotent control. "

Interesting. Being a creative makes us vulnerable to being out of control (especially actors), we cannot plan our career, we cannot be rewarded with a pay rise. Very often any brief success can easily become a distant memory which we continually strive to reach again. In the same token continual striving can mask our inner feelings of inadequacy, unfulfilled ambitions and hopelessness.
So in some way to gain control over our lives, gain a sense of purpose, and direction in our careers, keeping busy makes us feel like we are "getting it done", "working hard" when the opposite might be true.

I took up a challenge earlier this year as part of my New Years Resolution to MAKE TIME.
Now I can tell you that it didn't neccessarily involve countless jobs, auditions and work coming my way. But the upside was that suddenly I was free to enjoy my life that had previously been passing me by in an eternal check list of things to do and people to meet with.
I felt more grounded and happier, and was able to get perspective on my life, where I wanted my career to go and make decisions that turned out to be career and life changing. Then of course time, months and busyness got the better of me again.

So whilst the busyness can serve a purpose, I feel that I'm a little bit wiser about why it happens and what I'm doing that makes this happen.

So my advice and my resolution is to make time to just be, just sit, watch, ponder, walk, and let the world turn. Because after all, each minute you waste in busyness is another minute of your life that you'll never again relive.

Look forward to any comments or suggestions you might have!