After another 8-mile bike ride yesterday, my brain shut off. Perhaps it was the zen of the bike ride, the warmth of a September sunshine, the chatting with friends as we biked along, the escapade of a friend’s flat bike tire, the nourishment of a Quiznos sub halfway through for lunch, sitting outside to eat, watching a small town wake up on a leisurely Sunday morning.
Perhaps it was the flurry of reading a pile of library books before they were due, accompanying hubby to his new favorite froyo place and watching him eat (I can’t eat froyo because of a dairy allergy) his with much gusto, savoring each bite-sized piece of cheesecake and several maraschino cherries and then having bits of his waffle cone stick in his month-old beard, settling in on the couch to see the Emmy fashions and then being so bored by the abysmal Emmy show that I put it on mute and watch Netflix shows instead, eating dark chocolate until I am exhausted and ready for bed by 8:45.
And yet out of that flurry of brain-dead activity and exhaustion I find myself awake this fine Monday morning with a flurry of ideas flowing from my brain through my fingertips and onto my laptop screen.
I think this is right on because half of creativity is rest. Half of creativity is the finding of ideas, the opening up of the subconscious mind to new thoughts, ways of thinking, patterns that we haven’t ever seen before. The other half is doing something with said ideas, but we’ll deal with that later.
How do we get to that place, that piece of creativity that brings us ideas?
I think I stopped looking for them consciously. I mean, I thought a lot of things while on the bike ride—how we ride past a Lays production factory and on weekdays you can smell the potato chips being made, how the novel I had just finished reading before the bike ride made me ask questions and how I was not so happy about the ending, how I wished I had rearview mirrors on my cruiser so that when someone came up behind me on the trail, I didn’t about jump out of my skin and almost wreck my bike, how I love a good turkey sandwich with extra mayo.
And then I didn’t put pressure on myself. It was a weekend anyway. I could let all those thoughts simmer. I could just let them be, like they were floating down the river of my mind and I wasn’t going to judge them either way. They were just going to be there and that was it.
I think that’s what worked for me. That’s how ideas come so readily. I have spent time letting my brain shut down, not pushing it too soon after an idea collection happens.
For me, on weekdays, the pressure to answer the email instantly, to stay on social media too much, to retweet, update, like, reply, post a comment on a blog post is JUST TOO MUCH! It doesn’t feel natural for me right now. So I’m not going to do it. I think Martha Beck’s status update this morning on Facebook (yes, I am on Facebook) is right on:
Your first daily priority should be stillness, attention to what you really know and what you really feel.
I have to tune out, get off the computer, go do something (for me, it’s read and write something) and then I find that ideas don’t get plugged up, there’s not the comparison trap that I’m not doing enough. Offline I realize I am doing ENOUGH. That and thumbing through Gabby Bernstein’s new book about the ego and listening to a cd of Mark Epstein talking about being enough. So I guess I’m unplugging from the people that might push me too hard and listening instead to people who made space for their ideas so that they could share with me.