Tag Archives: beauty

Too Much Focus Kills Creativity

Wanderer Above the Mist. Caspar David Friedrich, 1818. Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Wanderer Above the Mist. Caspar David Friedrich, 1818. Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Days, weeks and months have flown by, and some weeks ago I noticed IT had quietly sneaked into my life. It had started to bleed me dry. It made me feel I had lost something precious.

IT was too much focus.

I had become too goal-oriented, too efficient. I had lost contact with a dimension that has been an essential part of my life for decades – more or less random acts of creativity.

In my attempt to build foundations for a work that I love – that is, to support other people who look for a deeper meaning in their lives – I had become so single-minded that I had forgotten to nourish the sources of creativity in me.

The hollow feeling inside me finally got so big that it forced me to see I was about to become a workaholic.

I’m glad I realized what was going on.

At the same time I wondered why I had to go to the other extreme to find the balance. I knew some of the reasons. One is my ability for enthusiasm. I get carried away. And in my eagerness to accomplish something I forget the big picture. I guess this happens to many of us. It happened to me now. And of course it was not for the first time in my life.

After trying to figure out reasons for becoming over-focused I soon understood it was a futile attempt and would not take me anywhere. Instead I decided to explore the content and meaning of creativity. 

What is creativity to you?

What is creativity to me? Here are some of my answers:

Creativity for me is wandering without a destination.
Creativity is enjoying the journey while not forgetting the destination.
Creativity is browsing books and discovering a poem that opens a new insight or a new world to me.
Creativity is remembering the painting of Caspar David Friedrich (above), finding it in my art history book and allowing myself to be absorbed by the image.
Creativity is music that touches my heart.
Creativity is connecting with myself and with others through random acts of creativity.
Creativity is lying on a coach on a rainy day and suddenly getting an idea.
Creativity is having all my senses open – eyes, ears, nose, skin, mouth – to the impressions that the world wants to offer me.
Creativity is seeing beauty in strange places and unusual details or objects.
Creativity is the ability to enjoy when someone else finds exactly the perfect words or a perfect image to express something meaningful, important, entertaining, beautiful, deep, and so on.
Creativity is surrendering to the process without knowing where I will finally be. It is like being a Feather on the Breath of God, like Hildegard Bingen said 1000 years ago in her beautiful lyrics.

You can continue the list. As you may notice – and what now surprises me – is that creativity is not only the capacity to create or produce something creative, but creativity is also the ability to enjoy and experience the fruits of creativity, and beauty in its many forms. It seems to me that is a total confluence of the creator and created, of giving and receiving.

P.S. If you want to read what science says about too much focus, read a very interesting blog by Emma Seppala at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201403/the-best-kept-secrets-exceptional-productivity

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stories of The Old Basket Chair

Does this basket chair tempt you to come and sit on it?

Photo: Maarit Suokas-Alanko

Photo: Maarit Suokas-Alanko

I can see it from where I am just now writing.

The day is sunny, bright and cool. The window is open and I can hear the wind that is unusually strong today. It rocks the aspens in the garden, and the sound it creates resembles the hum of sea somewhere in the distance.

I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks. I’ve been on holidays like everyone in Finland in July. I actually thought I wouldn’t write at all this month, but then I got inspired by that old basket chair. First I took photos of it, and then it asked me to write. It’s right there in front of the window. When I sit on it I can see what happens inside and outside the house, and inside and outside myself. During the weeks of summer holidays it is my watchtower, my nest for incubating ideas, my place for just sitting and staring.

Today my basket chair made me think of one particular aspect of life which I consider important: beauty.

I have adored beauty in its various forms throughout my whole life – in nature, in all forms of art. Treasuring beauty has been so important to me that I became a semi-professional painter, with the seriousness of a professional.

I even went to study aesthetics (see the definition at the end of the post) at the university. But I soon came to realize that my reverence of beauty was ultimately not of intellectual nature, and I did not bother to finish my studies.

I want to sense beauty. I want to feel it. And to me beauty does not only mean the sweet, pretty and lovely. There is beauty also in the raw and rugged. There is beauty in honesty that reveals the edginess and imperfection of reality.

My confession of faith could be: “I believe in God, the Ultimate Beauty.” Because beauty, as I see it, contains all the aspects that support and further life: harmony, peace, love, joy, courage, truth etc. In their purest forms all these qualities are simply – beautiful!

But let’s get back to the basket chair – on which, by the way, my late mother-in-law used to sit waiting for us when we came for a visit. As I was sitting on it yesterday I thought about blogging. I looked back to the end of January when I started. I even checked whether what I wrote on my About page still holds true.

I started to blog with the intention of giving myself a voice, of showing something new about myself. I guess this is the aim of many bloggers. I also wanted to challenge myself and decided to write in English. I wanted to share what life has shown to me. I felt that writing might help me to recreate myself after returning to Finland. Coming back “home” after years in other countries forced me again to ask the very universal and the very personal question: “Who am I?” – Asking this question is, of course, an exploration that continues until the end of life.

Right now I feel that I have reached many of the goals I set myself. But in the process of blogging something else has also emerged. Something that was not present in my original list of intentions. Something extra. Something that has been lost for years.

Photo: Maarit Suokas-Alanko

Photo: Maarit Suokas-Alanko

It is the joy of writing, the pleasure of using the amazing instrument of language. Being carried by words.

I look at again the old basket chair. The sun has moved on in the sky, and the chair now remains in the shade. It actually could be an image of me: An aging lady curiously looking into the outside world and curiously exploring the inner worlds.

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aesthetics |iːsˈθɛtɪks, ɛs-|(US also esthetics ) a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty.• the branch of philosophy which deals with questions of beauty and artistic taste.