Searching for that creative spark — and finding the fire within
During our last freeze, we burned a lot of wood in our fireplace. Our firewood man was stacking a second load in our garage when I heard him say to his buddy, “Wow, she really loves fire.” I chuckled because it was true. While I’m not stranded on an island, I know eggs-zactly how Tom Hanks felt when in the movie, Castaway, he made “FIRE!"
Fire fascinates me, in more ways than one. In relationship to creativity, it seems to be a fundamental component.
Scott McCool, a floral designer and horticulturist friend, is the one who first got me musing on the subject. Years ago, he proclaimed this: “A vision is something in your head that you THINK is gonna work. A wisdom is something you KNOW is gonna work."
I knew immediately what he was talking about. What interests me is, what happens when you’re making a wisdom?
Suits, whether from the business arena or sports, might refer to this moment as “the zone." A writer friend said, “It’s like I’m possessed." Those in the medical profession might explain it strictly in “physiological” terms. Psychologist Mihaly Csikezentmihalyi calls it “flow” and describes it as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake." My own belief is that while creating may be a compilation of things going on at the same time, it mostly has to do with spirit and split-second stuff.
I’ve had these experiences while doing different things. When scouting for a film location, I’d love getting lost – literally. During this time, I’d feel some strange, extra sense suddenly kick in. In following this sense, I’d always find THE place. Like when you’re shopping for a Christmas tree – you know when you see it.
Often while in a dance class, something soulful has taken my feet to places unknown, thanks to the sound of Prince, Aretha Franklin and River Dance. Moments when I experience utter freedom and from there, sheer joy. Sometimes when I’m writing it feels like I’m in a rhythm of running – where in every foot strike, every word written, I’m making tracks in travel that takes on a life of its own. Once while working as a door hostess at TJ Crump’s restaurant, I flipped over a menu flyer and drew what you might call an “abstract." I look at it today and think, “cool." I have no idea where it came from.
The photographer, Robb Kendrick, describes it beautifully: “For me, when things are all clicking, it’s all about being on auto pilot, where you’re reacting to the events that are transpiring and not really even thinking. Trusting yourself and your abilities to the point that there’s no question about what you’re doing and just doing it and letting yourself go. It’s like throwing fuel on the fire. The more fuel — or work — the greater the fire. When I worked on the project that resulted in the book STILL, we were working 15-18 hours per day, seven days a week for 14 weeks and doing so while driving 42,000 miles. It was very intense, but I love the subject of the project and once the ball got rolling, the good energy just kept building to a point that I felt nuclear powered.”
When writer and photographer Christopher Woods saw something while strolling the plaza in Taos, he heeded the call. He stepped inside a pharmacy, bought a pen and a writing tablet, found a bench and wrote Two Women At Nightfall, which was later published in The Southern Review. Woods described the moment as an “unexpected gift." “I felt like my story was writing itself, that I was simply there to take dictation.”
For former Houston Ballet principal dance Janie Parker, the experiences happened on stage.
“I only had perhaps three or four performances where I came offstage and instead of apologizing for some something, I just enjoyed riding the high that came from being a part of that evening’s performance," she recalls. "The delicious feeling can only be akin to what God felt like when He created everything and ‘saw that it was good.’”
It would be easy to assume that those who’ve had this experience primarily work in the arts, but if you ask around you might be as surprised, as I was, to learn how many folks from very different professions know just what you’re talking about.
This may sound way too "woo-woo," but sometimes I’ve wondered if our spirit relates in some way to the moment a newborn hits air – where an energy, already burning, becomes instantly enhanced when an infant takes in his first breath.
Whatever you call it – wouldn’t you love to hear God’s take on the subject of “fire”?