To ensure your creativity survives in this world of radical discontinuity, a healthy understanding of rhythm is essential. Radical discontinuity is a fancy way of saying the world is changing so fast we can’t keep up with it.
We live in a world replete with what I call “cracks in time.” A crack in time is an event that changes the world as we know it. Historically, those cracks occurred every ten thousand years or so—the discovery of fire (200,000 BC), the bow and arrow (10,000 BC), the invention of the wheel (2,000 BC). Then cracks began to appear every hundreds of years—the Gutenberg printing press (1568 AD), the steam engine (1800), the atom (1897). And they began to snowball—the first micro chip (1958), personal computer (1975), first laptop computer (1981), USA Today (1982), first Macintosh computer (1984).
Today the cracks develop at warp speed. Consider this, Nokia’s first mobile (if you can call it that) phone was introduced in 1982, the Nokia Mobira Senator was designed for use in cars. After all, you wouldn’t want to use this phone while walking: It weighed about 21 pounds.
It’s hard to comprehend, but in 1993, we functioned somewhat normally in a world devoid of Internet, email, text messages, PDA’s, Facebook, and YouTube.
Radical discontinuity. You get the picture.
How many passwords do you have at this moment? I bet you can’t recall them all.
For your creativity to survive in this chaos, these three rhythms provide a catchy “drum loop” for life.
1. The Rhythm of Seasons — In “God’s Country,” otherwise known as Nashville, Tennessee, USA, we have four distinct seasons of approximately three months each. Winter, spring, summer and fall. These seasons represent death followed by life. An application of this natural rhythm to our physical, emotional and spiritual life provides exponential benefits.
A friend of mine would visit me a few years ago in Florida from the Chicago winter, and as we luxuriated in the endless summer, I would ask him how he survived the cold harsh winter in the windy city. I will never forget his answer. “It’s great. I hibernate like a big bear. Sometimes I feel sorry for all you suckers who live in Florida year-round. You don’t get a hibernation time. Everybody needs to hibernate once a year. It’s human nature.”
After 20 years of frenetic non-stop summer in Florida, it was a life-changing relief to experience the rhythmic seasonal changes of Tennessee.
Regular exercise, the liturgy, holidays, periodic vacations, festivals, harvest, the Sabbath, a shower in the morning, a cup of coffee on the porch before work, all provide seasonal rhythm in the chaos of life. It is no coincidence, these “seasons” result in our most creative times.
2. The Rhythm of Relationships — Even though it hurts, it is natural for relationships to come and go. In the transient world in which we live, it’s no surprise that we creatives fear cultivating deep relationships.
But cultivate we must. New relationships provide exciting and unique perceptual views. Only in deep relationships, are we able to look at the world through a new set of eyes. Healthy relationships provide not only a glimpse at the window of our soul – which in itself is invaluable – but also provide new ways of looking at the world as a whole.
And most importantly, in the dark nights of our soul, when we can’t see for ourselves, our true friends can see for us. Thus, the natural rhythm of our life is able to continue through suffering. Creatives must walk through the dark night of the soul, for it is in that crucible where sight and insight is recreated and restored. Very few people are truly creative, because they have a dearth of deep relationships, and therefore no guide through the dark night of the soul.
It is no coincidence, these “relationships” accompany our most creative times.
3. The Rhythm of Solitude — A rhythm for the chaos of a 24/7 world is solitude. The word is counter-cultural in our Western world. When a decision is made to invest in your creativity through solitude, prepare to be misunderstood by employer, peers, friends, and yes, family.
But this rhythm is imperative in the creative life. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, “The rhythm of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”
If we are truly spiritual, in solitude is where we are least alone. It is only in solitude that we confront the source of our loneliness. And in rhythms of solitude, loneliness can become not only bearable, but a wellspring of creativity.
How much time have you spent in true solitude?
It is no coincidence, that “solitude” is the companion in our most creative times.
How About You?
Do You Consider Yourself Creative?
Do you “Got Rhythm?”
What Rhythms Inspire Your Creativity?