The other day I worried that I really didn’t have a focus for this blog; something to orient both me and any readers I may be lucky enough to snare. What have I been I writing about? What subject do I even have to write about?
Then I suddenly realized that the general subject of this blog has been stress and creativity. If I wanted to sound official, I’d say the interface between stress and creativity, but since I can’t say that with a straight face (or interface), I won’t.
What does this mean? I guess the question for me is how one, in this manically depressed stressful modern world, maintains some kind of creative effort? How can one use stress as a source for creativity rather than as a wet blanket for its termination? (How, also, can the manic avoid using creativity as a further source of stress?)
For my first conscious exploration of this subject, I turn to the teachings of my old dog Pearl. Pearl was struck by a sudden spine problem a couple of weeks ago that paralyzed her from the dog-waist down, rendering her hind legs both insensitive and immobile. Amazingly, with the help of steroids, she has recovered some use of her legs: she can wobble along now, though she moves like the proverbial drunken sail—dog. (BTW, after reading several Horatio Hornblower books last week, I now feel enough “expertise” to understand that the unsteadiness of a drunken sailor is archetypical because it arises from at least two sources—(a) alcohol and (b) sea legs, i.e. legs accustomed to the sway of waves that are suddenly posited upon dry land.)
Pearl’s up in the country this weekend, and her reaction to it is a lesson in the maintenance of creativity under stress. (For these purposes, I’ll consider Pearl’s outdoor explorations and general cuteness her “expression.”)
Pearl still has trouble even walking, and yet, here, in a country place she has loved since puppydom, she wobbles, skips, trots. What motivates her, what keeps her going, seems to be two factors: habit and engagement.
There are certain places (a long dirt driveway), and certain times of day, in which Pearl has always run here. That habit (plus steroids) is so strong that when I put her down on these spots, and at those special times, her legs just move.
Where habit runs out, engagement takes over. The scent of a place where a deer has recently bedded down will lure Pearl, sniffing, into tall grass, pull her through reeds, propel her into Heraculean effort. I can only derail her lopsided enthusiasm by physically picking her up and putting her back on her track, where, out of habit, she quickly wobbles off again.
Which brings me back to the creative human mind dealing with stressful obstacles–all those drags upon the consciousness. How to avoid paralysis? How to dart and trot, dig and ferret? How to just keep going?
This (I think) is this blog’s inquiry.
Thanks so much to those who have been following. Stay tuned.