In preparation for my first class next weekend, I have begun reading Robert Fritz's book, The Path of Least Resistance. One of the theories Fritz is offering is that we humans are raised to believe that circumstances, not people, have power, and that our job is to react or respond to circumstances.
He proposes that to focus on creativity -- "What can I create?" as opposed to "How can I fix this" will serve as a more productive approach to life, and so this morning I am reading about the three stages of creativity: Conceive of the result you want to create, know what currently exists, and take action.
I confess I'm excited to think that the disciplines I've been learning as an artist these last 15 years or so might apply across a broader spectrum of life, though I'm not sure yet that I agree, either that this is how I go about things, or that the broader application works. But I'm open. And I suspect at this point that's the most important thing I can do or be.
And the most important thing we can ever do in any circumstance is to start where we are, so here I am, starting with this image, which I shot in Anacortes yesterday while killing time before the ferry. I love it, but does it fit the three stages? I didn't know it existed before I saw it, so I could not exactly have conceived it. But I do have in mind -- and have had for some time -- a series of images of damaged or painted metal surfaces actually printed on metal. And anyone who has watched my work for a while knows I have a favorite color spectrum. So you could easily say I conceived of this, even if I didn't quite know what form it would take.
You could also say that's why I'm going to school: I've conceived of a career helping an organization -- or several organizations -- achieve productivity by maximizing the passion and creativity of their work force. I don't quite know what form that career will take, but I have at least conceived of an objective.
Stage two -- knowing what currently exists -- seems valid as well: I don't have surfaces like this lying around my yard, so I need to travel to find them. And if I have to travel to a place like Anacortes, where I know ships are being built and repaired, and I know when the ferry leaves, I can be conscious about bringing my camera and building in time to wander around and shoot whatever looks like it might work, not only within this particular vision, but with other projects I'm currently exploring.
It probably holds true with school, as well: Though I have lots of experience in this arena, I don't have the kinds of credentials to prove my work can be focused there without the usual constructs of marketing, or journalism, or librarianship (the things I DO have credentials for). So I did the research, got discouraged, and then -- because I still had this vision in my head -- when I heard about this program I realized it could be exactly what I was looking for. I knew what existed at the level of need, and worked to learn what existed that could meet that need.
Taking action seems pretty simple: I shot the picture! But I will also then file it with a lot of other similar pictures, and as I gather more and more I will begin weeding them out, and then, when I have what feels like a definitive collection, I'll find a venue to show them and arrange to have them printed -- all of these are actions required to realize this vision.
The career vision seems to work the same way: the action I took was in applying to the school. But I will also need to take the classes, read the books, write the papers, and then, when it feels like I have the knowledge and credentials I need, I'll find a venue where they might be applied and present my skill set in hopes of realizing the vision.
So, yes -- at least on these two levels, this metaphor seems to work for me. How about you? Are you busy reacting or responding to circumstances in your life? Or are you visualizing new possibilities and taking steps to achieve them?
It feels a bit like the difference between seeing the trees and seeing the forest. I wonder if that's the heart of this challenge: expanding our vision to see beyond our immediate circumstances to the possibilities that lie ahead? Guess I'll keep reading and see where it takes me!