The 12 Days of Creativity… Day 11.

Posted on Dec 24, 2011

Station 11 is Pruning. It follows Nurturing in the Cultivation quarter. While Station 10 was the mothering energy of the Wheel – tender and protective – Station 11 is the fathering energy. Once the new thing has matured enough to be ready, here it is trained to maximize its gifts.

While I was first developing the concept for this station, I was living in the South of France. One sunny day, I went to a café on the village square for an espresso. I was contemplating these two concepts when I overhead a loud American man speaking from across the square. I was a bit embarrassed until, to my amazement, I heard his story:

“When I was a boy I raised homing pigeons. The mother and father would take turns in the nest until the eggs hatched. Then the mother would take over as the babies learned to fly. Every day they’d go out and come back and she was waiting for them… until one day, when the baby bird arrived, it was the father instead…” [he threw his hand in front of his body violently]… “saying, ‘That’s it now. Go out and make a family for yourself and live your life.” I had the comparison I was looking for.

The task of Station 11 is discipline, and its reward is mastery. As the Essence of the new thing is realized in Form, everything that is not essential must be cut away. Whether it is the chisel for the stone sculptor, the secateurs for the gardener, or the editor for the author, there is much work to be done here. And it is tiring.

In an interview I did with author and dancer Toni Bentley on her creative process, Ms. Bentley read from her first book, Winter Season, about her experience as a dancer with George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet. She described her work with Balanchine as “the end of a dream and the beginning of reality.”

My own experience has been a maturing process in itself. Aside from my work, the place where I experience my creative process most directly is in my music, especially in singing. The quality of the sound I am able to produce is completely different now than it was even five years ago. The change has only come with consistent training.

Tips to get the most from Station 11:

  • Give it time. Don’t try to rush the process of perfection.
  • Create a routine and do what you love first. It is the pinnacle of your life.
  • Get support. Have a community you can trust to give you honest feedback.
  • Become accountable. Find someone you trust to push you and keep you in check.

Artist or athlete, entrepreneur or student, discipline is a friend to all those who succeed. A lot of time is spent here in order to achieve mastery; then the result seems natural and effortless. There are no shortcuts here for sustainable reliable performance. When the technique is there and the body developed, it is the letting go that produces the most beautiful sound. And that takes us to Station 12.

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The 12 Days of Creativity… Day 12.