We were invited to a meeting with the bank manager which began with a questionnaire to update their records. After going through the usual stuff about where we live and when we were born, the manager asked me what I did and I told him, “I’m a retired homeopath and I write books.” He glanced up in surprise and said, “and whose books do you write?” I laughed and he looked confused, mumbling, “sorry, stupid question”.
I reflected on it afterwards. Whose books do I write? How much does any act of creativity come from the effort of the poet, painter or author – and how much of it comes through channelling the life force that surrounds us? If you watch someone in creative mode they can appear to be in a meditative state, almost blindly feeling for the right colour or listening for the right word – yes, I am mixing up the senses – and maybe more of it comes from the muse than we realise.
The technique that I used here is reflective questioning. This means questioning myself in a way that will make me think more deeply about the topic. I offer a tentative suggestion in answer, considering the role of the muse, but it needs to be developed into a full reflection.
As a supervisor and facilitator, I have observed many times the moment in which someone lets go of their conscious mind and allows their unconscious to make the choices for them. It is especially effective if they have chosen to work with symbols rather than words. For example, I might suggest that they choose one of the small toy figurines or animals to represent themselves. Even when they have turned out the entire bagful onto the floor, it would be very difficult to rely on logic and conscious thought to make their choice. Instead they act like a water diviner, one hand hovering blindly over the toys, examining the occasional one and rejecting it; and clearly knowing when they have chosen the right one.
This is a process of allowing and trusting the unconscious to make the right choice, and maybe there is an element of this when we are being creative. My own experience when I am drawing is that I work with what feels right most of the time, and use logic towards the end of the process. Others will do it differently.
There still remains the question of whether my inspiration always comes from my personal unconscious wisdom – or whether I tap into a universal source energy that belongs to all of us. If it is the latter, then my answer to the bank manager is that I write my own books with some additional inspiration from other sources. Am I comfortable with this conclusion? Yes, it feels okay to me – what about you?
The importance of creativity I cannot doubt. To be creative is to be pro-active, expressive and contributes to our well-being. In this day and age we are encouraged to be passive recipients of incoming information through television and social media. But we are not here to be recipients of other people’s ideas, we are complex beings that desire to be creative and meaningful in our own right.
Creativity as I see it can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It can be artistic, scientific, mental, emotional or physical. It can be expressed through the body in dance or sport, in artistic ways such as painting, drawing, music, writing or poetry, or in science and technology through inspiration and intuitive understanding. It is invaluable as a tool for self-reflection after you have come out of the creative flow and have time to re-view what you have made.