Excess and clean surfaces: a short essay on creativity

I am the kind of person who owns a lot of stuff but also loves to keep the surfaces clean. The last time I checked, these two things don’t go hand in hand. When I open my drawers, it’s always a painful reminder that I need to arrange or re-arrange everything, and when I do, I always experience that New-Year feeling of freshness and inspiration. (Un)fortunately, not for long. All the space fills up in a matter of days; here’s a lovely postcard I received from my friend, here’s a ton of papers I’ll have to read for my exams; here’s a magazine with my recently published article; here’s an old notebook filled with to-do lists, resolutions or plans (always disappointed, though, to discover that some of my resolutions extend back to 2011 – guess it’s time to react). I don’t keep things that don’t have any emotional value for me. The problem is that too many of them are dear to me. Finding a way to keep everything without becoming an obsessive hoarder is a challenging task.

No matter how mundane this example sounds, I have found myself facing quite a similar challenge while trying to understand what is creativity for me and how I should approach it (disclaimer: I am perfectly aware that everyone defines it differently, but that’s not my point here). Being exposed at a multitude of ideas that seem consideration-worthy and being able to reduce my piece of work to excellence without bleeding too much isn’t easy. Occasionally it is, when I’m fueled by the so-called momentarily “inspiration” but, frankly, most of the time the process is rather complicated. When the job is a creative one, there’s no place for doing something out of inertia, because operating automatically in a creative field is impossible and defies the initial purpose of creative work: See things that other neglect; explore the areas yet undiscovered; plunge into the depths that seem to be unattainable; synthetize all this unique experience to deliver something (be it a photoshoot, a book or a short movie) touching and eye-opening. In other words, intensify the experience of life.

After relentless musing on the subject, I have come to a relative conclusion that for me creativity is an ability to express oneself/one’s opinions, ideas, experiences in a resonating and authentic way, without conveying and contributing to the circulation of horrendous banalities and clichés that have flooded the public space (live laugh love kind of stuff) since everyone (thanks to social media) has a pedestal to speak from. While that is definitely a good thing, it has also shown how essential it is to be constantly exposed to different approaches, ideas, experiences and voices.  For me, creativity is tapping into this huge reservoir and dissecting things that speak to me the most, challenge me the most and might potentially bring something new out from me. I’ve challenged myself to read as much as I can. Watch as much as I can. Be attentive and listening as much as I can. Too often it becomes overwhelming and tiring, just like hoarding too many things at the same, and I’ve been seduced by minimalistic life principles too many times. I’ve tried surrounding myself only with “the best of the best” books, magazines, movies, etc. It’s not a coincidence that these extraordinary life changes that were meant to inspire me and stimulate my creativity, only resulted in soul-sucking writing blocks.

I remember one of my conversations with a French architect Julien Woycinkiewicz and his wife, a talented artist Audrey Kesler, who insisted it’s vital to be attentive to all kinds of art or media forms, even if they’re considered to be “mediocre”. I think I really understand what they meant – it’s only when I get immersed in the depths of this excessive amount of information, without any prior judgment, which could cloud the whole process, I am able to find new ideas and stay creative. Well, at least I hope for that, because creative is such an enigmatic word, after all. There are so many talents that are yet on their way to the top and finding an eloquently written paragraph on a local coffee journal, whose readers can be counted by fingers is a pure bliss. That’s why I will always hoard millions of ideas found in numerous sources. And maybe one day I will be able to create my very own masterpiece; a kind of masterpiece I would able to qualify as valuable enough to stay in my drawer if I ever decided to get rid of all other things that it is brimmed with.

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