Three Things I Learned Today About Consciousness and Creativity

1. On July 7 of this year,  a group of neuroscientists declared that all nonhuman animals, “including all mammals and birds and many other creatures, including octopuses,” are conscious. There is a signed document to this effect (The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals).

Science is catching up to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, which suggest that there is a kind of consciousness in all things—including a rudimentary consciousness in plants and minerals. I think the next thing will be to recognize that there is a difference between the brain, where everyone’s looking for consciousness, and the mind.

2. One theory of creative genius, originally proposed by psychologist Donald Sutherland and made more comprehensive by psychologist, Dean Keith Simonton, suggests that creative thought comes through a process of “blind variation and selective retention (BVSR).”

Basically it means that creative people go blindly through a lot of trial and error, trying man things to determine the idea’s usefulness. They have to generate a pile of different ideas. This, Simonton calls superfluity. Lots of ideas. Ones that ultimately won’t work.

Creative people also backtrack; this is retracing steps.

Often the two happen at the same time. Creativity isn’t linear. Neither is it circular. It’s more zigzagular. Probably not something that can be described on a piece of paper in a diagram.

3. Talent is important in cultivating genius (and extreme creativity). However, there are several other things that may be even more important:

  • pursuing an activity for its own sake—the feeling of autonomy
  • finding the activity important or of interest
  • feeling competent in your skills (which gives you confidence)

What’s Old is New Again—I Can’t Believe I Think I’m in the Same Place—But I’m Not!

I began this blog about 2 years ago. Almost to the date! I had just returned from a spectacular weekend with Music for People grads, the first time in 10 years. Inspiration, sadness, joy and a desire to give myself a quick kick in the butt. Which I did.

Is it something about October?

 

Sunfish Craves Crab and Runs for the Hills

The bright moment in an otherwise cloudy, cool day in Sidney-by-the-Sea was watching a sun starfish as it dealt with a dead crab.
I’m a patient watcher of these hard to catch natural moments. Starfish do not move quickly.

It rolled over the crab, heaved itself into a small hill, appeared to try it out for breakfast, then spit it out, still intact… and made a run for the hills.

Starfish typically eat mollusks. Why this crab?

How many times do we try something out, thinking it’s something else!

Finding the Mus(e)ic Again

The challenge for any artist is, primarily, to show up to one’s art. There are all kinds of ways not to show up. Doing the dishes, hanging out on email or facebook, working, watching TV, taking care of the family… the To Do list goes on, as does life. Then you wake up at the end of your life and realize- you didn’t become the artist you wanted to be. And it would have been so easy.

One of my ways has been to find interesting jobs that take time and a number of talents. Work that pays the bills and allows the creativity to move. Managing a farmers’ market, writing and strategizing for a cultural non-profit, teaching music lessons, starting a youth band, founding a women’s choir.

Ten years ago I graduated from the Musicianship & Leadership Program with Music for People. It was four years of growing, personally and musically. Four years of driving 2 000 km, four times a year to workshops. Four years of Homeplay, teaching, facilitating, thinking and busting through, over, under and around obstacles. And thanking them for the opportunity.

In my head, I knew I could make a life and a living with this. But I haven’t. Detours, Distractions, Dilly Dallying… it’s all added up to a very interesting, imaginative, musical, artful, creative life, but My Music -I’ve ignored it. Completely. Serendipity would have it that I created some work for this month and next— two days of work in a school. This past weekend, I spent a weekend coming out of the Shadow Artist role I’ve played, knowing I’d been missing making music. I made the trip to my first Music for People weekend since 2000.

I celebrated my 10th anniversary of graduation with 3 others who graduated at the same time, on the weekend of 10-10-10. Four new grads joined us, making it 100 MfP grads to date. The numerological significance of this did not slip by me.

At home, I wandered around our bush, on a sunny Thanksgiving Monday, camera in hand. I sang into the woods, I kept silence as my friend, I listened to the leaves rustling— and tried to imitate the sound, I made some photos, thought about “Art” and, let my mind travel.

As one job has ended, time has been released. With harvest in full swing, the house will be empty much of the time. I’ve reduced the number of teaching hours. We’re heading into the quiet season, the deepening time, the period of going inside.

Today I began the recovery process. Along with my meditative and study  practice, I’m committing to spending 1 hour each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning… making music. No phones, no computer, no dishes, mail, cleaning, making lists… just music.

And I will see where music takes me over the next two months.