The 12 Days of Creativity… Day 6.
I call Station 6 in the Wheel of Creativity Crisis, because it brings you to the turning point of the Wheel. The new world you’ve been seeking sits on the horizon like a sparkling jewel… or an elusive promised land. “Catch me if you can!” it beckons. You can see it, but you cannot set foot there until you have crossed the distance and the met the challenges that separate you.
T.S. Eliot charmed me the first time I read his Four Quartets, with the following verse:
“In order to arrive at what you are not, you must go through the way in which you are not.”
The Wheel of Creativity offers a paraphrase:
“In order to create something new, you must first go through the dissolution of the old.”
You know you’re in Station 6 when your primary experience is P – A – N – I – C!
The unexplained terror I felt on the morning of September 10, 2001 eased as I left the hotel, and Athens, on my way to Florence. But it intensified again when I changed planes at Rome Fiumicino and continued to fail, battling with the Italian payphone, to find one hotel room for my three nights in Florence. The city was heaving. I was in tears. Finally, a kindly hotelier took pity and offered me a tiny room with no bathroom and no window for one night. That was all there was. I surrendered. I took it.
The creative process is fraught with setbacks and storms. They are frightening; but they are not the enemy. Survival instincts – Fight or Flight – kick in; but it is only when we stop fighting and come to stillness that we see clearly. Welcome the storm, for it clears the way before you. Only in its wake does the path to the new world come into focus.
How do you welcome the storm?
- Recognize the limits of your control; know what you can and can’t change.
- Detach from the storm around you. Remember to locate yourself in it.
- Get simple. Jettison everything that’s not essential to the moment.
Station 6 is an intense place in the creative process, and coming through it lands you on the far side of the Wheel of Creativity. It is the point called Chaos, and it is as far away from Home as you can get:
- If Home is familiar… Chaos is unfamiliar.
- If Home is known… Chaos is unknown.
- If Home is stable… Chaos is unstable.
- If Home is order… Chaos is disorder.
I like to picture Chaos as a house with the roof wide open and the stars falling in. When we finally stop trying to patch up all the leaking places in our lives, when we finally surrender to the purpose of the storms, the stars simply begin to grace us with their light. Dissolution – the first half of the creative process – is complete; and Creation – the second half – can begin.
Are you ready for that?