I am focused on the end-product. Most of what I do, whether I am driving to work to dutifully be present while mentally checked-out for most of the day’s tasks or rushing through chores at home so that I can be done and relax, I often do things simply so they can be done and not for the sake of doing them. Why do them, then? Because I choose to take care of basic responsibilities: I need to bring home a paycheck to cover the mortgage and haven’t quite figured out the meaningful work thing yet, and I choose to keep fresh food in the kitchen to cook each night for my family, and insert most other uninspiring household chores here.
But how much of that practical mindset infuses and begins takes over my other more creative modes of being? Do I have conscious control over how I decide to be and act in the world? What happens when I no longer choose to do things for the pleasure or beauty or process? What happens to my spirit when the only effort I put forth is for the necessities?
I have recently started looking past my sense of duty – providing for my family, doing the laundry – and I am noticing the way I approach these daily activities only for the goal of checking another task off my list. The mindset has bleed over into every aspect of my life. If there’s no clear, immediate logical benefit, then I scratch it.
But the universe taps me on the shoulders with messages sometimes, and if I am listening I will sense it once or twice, and then it clicks.
I was taking photographs last weekend. I have a beautiful DSL camera my husband bought me years ago, a remnant of the creative risk-taker I used to be when I took a few classes in high school and produced some interesting results and had a wonderful time finding and creating stunning, weird, unique shots.
The only reason I pulled out the camera the other day was because I had applied to write for a photography and depression website. I thought if I am going to write for this audience, I ought to pick up the camera again and shoot something other than the compulsory event photographs I take for work sometimes.
I drove down the street from my home to an open area and decided to follow my own advice, wait, and then follow the pull of my own interest. Soon I was shooting a tree that had grown into a wooden fence, an old post with some swirly wire, and I found some honey bees on the low hanging branches of a tree with a ragged red and white road closure fence behind it blurred in the background.
Here’s the thing, I took over a 100 shots. When I reviewed them, I realized I only took 2-4 decent to okay shots. That’s it. I mean it’s been ages since I’ve tried to take a creative photograph. But I spent a lovely hour noticing the sky and clouds, and the artful framing of really normal everyday things I wouldn’t normally give a second look. So I considered this a success not because of the photos I produced, which weren’t really spectacular at all compared to some of the edgy creative stuff I was doing at the height of my photography skills. But it was a solid way to pass an hour that lifted my spirits and made me feel creative.
So again, maybe it was not time well-spent in terms of end product, no stunning shot, most of the photos will never be seen again. However, taking the pictures was pleasant, and I felt light and happy while doing it, so I deemed it enough. The process was enough for me.
There were other taps on the shoulder to help me notice this.
- I watched a Marie TV about some researchers who studies two groups of exercisers who were told to focus on different things. The group who focused on the End Goal of weight loss versus the group who focused on the Process, the sensations and feelings of running ran longer and felt more energy than the group focused on the outcome only.
- I am reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, which I am reading and finding deeply meditative and restful, about tapping the water table and not holding too tightly to what wants to come through while writing.
So thank you to whatever it is that catches my attention, I hear you, and I will take this forward with me as I begin writing on this blog.
I choose to inhabit a more creative mindset focused on the process over the end-product.
It’s kind of uncomfortable, new and a bit foreign, but I choose to engage in the process of rustily rekindling my relationship with writing.
I realize I am writing this for me more than for anyone who might read this, and that feels right for now. These are my own musings and are seemingly important and helpful to me now. So to help me grasp them and acknowledge that YES I am hearing the message and getting it as best I can, I write about it to reinforce it.