In the first installment of The Grand Experiment, I outlined the problems I encounter when trying to spend my limited free time being creative. My solution? Alternating weeks of creativity and relaxation. The result? Not good, but not a complete failure. So in keeping with my promise to treat these problems as ultimately solvable, I have changed my strategy.
I am dropping the week-long time periods. It was all too easy to become derailed by something unexpected and then feel that the entire week was a waste because I didn’t spend the WHOLE week either being creative or relaxing. Which of course meant I didn’t feel right about moving to the next phase when the week was up. (I’m telling you, these stupid psychological things make a big difference for me.)
After I realized that the time period was working against me, I happened to have a week’s vacation coming up. I decided that this vacation would be spent entirely free of obligations. No big events to attend, no personal goals set, just time to let my mind wander where it would. If I was feeling creative, I would do something creative. If I wanted to binge watch Dexter, I would sit on the couch and eat Cheez Its until there were no more episodes left or my eyes staged a coup. You know what happened? I did both.
At a lovely, leisurely pace, I alternated between creative endeavors and couch-potato-hood. The activities and my inner voice dictated the time frame. Sometimes it was a matter of minutes, sometimes whole days. And as I followed this meandering river of energy expenditure and replenishment, I found my mind opening up to some kind of natural flow. An underground current, far beneath the realm of my mental judges and my futile grasping at non-existent controls.
I made other realizations during that vacation about the nature of my creativity and my reasons for being creative at all and I attribute these new perspectives to my connection with that underground current.
I suddenly feel like I can breathe underwater. I look around, suspended in that shifting, liquid chamber in my mind and there is no pressure. No fear. Only the strange singing shape of my psyche and how it wishes to express itself. Or relax itself. Expand, contract, open, close.
It’s been two months since that vacation and the alternation continues. Surfing that flow appears to be possible even when the time available shrinks to a fraction of each day. And I was right about at least one thing when I constructed this grand experiment. Creative progress has shut the judge up. He might still be talking, but I can’t hear him down here where the water is moving.
Now to see how long I can swim!