Taking the Time to Recharge Your Creativity

In my last post, I commented on how we use time and how it relates to living the dream and maintaining harmony in our lives. Not long afterward, a colleague sent me an email that kept my pondering on that subject going–but in a somewhat new direction.

My colleague (who I will call Al, because I haven’t asked him if he minds my using his name) is something of an expert on the subject of creativity. Al has been studying it and writing on the subject for a number of years. In May, Al took a trip he had wanted to take for many years. He would soon turn sixty and decided he’d waited long enough to make the journey.

Did he go to an exotic place? Well, yes and no. It depends on what you think of as exotic. But anyone who has found herself on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive on a Saturday night will probably admit that it is exotic enough for most of us!

Al made an art and architecture trip to Chicago. He started with with the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Art Institute, went on to explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, and explored all things deco and nouveau. He found it somewhat disconcerting to discover that Marshall Fields is now Macy’s and that Carson, Pirie, Scott is closed. He was happy, though, that Macy’s had the good sense to keep the original name plates intact on the building and that he could still see the Louis Sullivan ornamental iron trim at the edge of the scaffolding on the old Carson’s building.

He had a great time. He likened it to a mythic journey. He took so many photographs that he was still taking them in his dreams when he returned and emailed me to tell me about the trip.

Al was rejuvenated, inspired, and in creative overdrive as a result of that trip. And his journey is instructive.

If we want rich, full, creative lives, we have to surrender to where life wants to take us sometimes. Life wanted to take Al to Chicago. (That last sentence makes me want to whip out an old Fenton Robinson CD and play “Going to Chicago, ” or, at the very least, burst into song, myself.) Al was smart enough to allow the excuse of his impending sixtieth birthday to lead him there. He has enough material for his studies and writing on creativity (both from the trip and from the creative juices it cranked up in him) to last for months.

Now that was a good use of time.

One last thing. Al told me that Edward Hopper made the following comment when asked about one of his last paintings, one of a light-drenched sun in an empty room: “I’m after ME.” Now isn’t that what living the dream is all about? Isn’t that what creative expression is all about? Isn’t that the best reason for doing anything that maybe takes us away from our hurly-burly lives?

I think so. What do you think?


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2 Responses to “Taking the Time to Recharge Your Creativity”

  1. Rosemary Carstens Says:

    What a great topic! I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of time and creativity also. With my communications business, I often find that I do not have energy left over for my own writing. This year I am taking 2 1/2 months off, thanks to a grant, to focus solely on my own writing and some painting. It feels scary in a way to let go of my paying work for so long to turn my attention to my own research and see if I really have it in me to accomplish my goals. But it also feels so exciting–the mixed feelings of wanting to take the roller coaster ride wrapped up inside all the “No, you don’ts” that caution teaches us. But, like Al, I think it’s time for an E-ticket ride, to push beyond borders into new worlds and perspectives that await. Rosemary Carstens – http://www.FEASTofBooks.com


  2. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    I’m with you, sister! I, too, struggle with keeping my businesses going, my home chugging along, my friends/family in my activities . . . and attending to my own writing. In fact, my own writing is often way down on the list.

    I love that you are taking some time off to pursue writing and painting and I hope you will keep us all informed on how it is going. (In fact . . . if you want to do a Living the Dream guest blog post, I would love it.)

    If Al’s experience is any guide, your “paying work” will benefit from the time off. (I put that in quotes because I know at least some of what you are up to and I have no doubt it will become another type of paying work!)

    I am reminded of the first time I did a retreat at a monastery. I was in job search and it had been somewhat protracted. I was feeling less sure of myself than I wanted to feel. I didn’t take 2 1/2 months, only a week. But very soon after I got back, an amazing job opportunity fell right into my lap. It was a week well spent.

    For readers of these posts who may be unfamiliar with Rosemary Carstens’ web site (provided above), I want to suggest you go there and check it out. It is a feast for anyone who loves books, art, food, film, and travel.

    And while you are at it, visit her blog,
    http://www.carstensfeast.blogspot.com for an ongoing helping of the same.



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