And how to stay connected to it in the age of Collaboration and Collective Telepathy
I remember, as a teenager, as a performing arts “genius” in our talent pool, watching my drama teacher and my art teacher (they were married), wondering what it must be like to build a marriage, share a love in which you shared your artistic/creative passions, at the same time as on and off dating a high school boyfriend with whom I did share exactly that and all the emotionally reasoned teenage highs and lows that went with it. But he was distant and unobtainable (until school holidays and no one was watching at least), so it was never the same. Like dear Christina in that movie, there was a part of me though, that deeply longed for the kind of passion and fire I imagined must exist when your life purpose and your partners intertwine.
For some reason I will never quite understand, in the literal absence of my Mother and the massive disconnect that existed between me and my Father, my Drama Teachers made it their business to make my business their business, always. I later realised, when I went on later to do Contemporary Arts majoring in Drama at uni, while I loved it, there was some fundamental aspect of depth that was missing as an ingredient for my creative inspiration in this new space. One aspect of it, was the making a difference component that I’d watched my Mentors deliver previously. I couldn’t quite see how it fitted in in the context in which we talked about performance and technique and went more professional that year. Plus I think the VCA lecturer staffing the stand that open day I attended (aged 17, feeling half dead from a head and chest cold that hung around for months after my Grandad died, but determined to get there because this was my dream) when I walked up to him excitedly, took a deep breath to speak and was promptly gestured to “sshhh” before I’d even said a word, he kind of hit it on the head when he said “why don’t you come back when you’ve had a few more years life experience?” Little did he know, by that time, I’d already been through so much life crap I probably had more “life experience” than half the building at that point. Big mistake on his part writing me off on my appearance before I’d said a word i'd say in hindsight. But he wasn’t to know that.
Why did he care so much about life experience though? Because great acting requires great empathy and a first hand experience of what it’s like to have lived as that character, in that circumstance. My drama teachers knew that. BUT, I realised it was what I’d loved about my high school Mentors, in the space of so much love and support they held, where we’d all been through tonnes in life, and were quite empathetic and making a difference focussed as people, there was a freedom to be the whole spectrum of authentic, real you, broken bits and all, that made for some great improvisation and planned performance work at a far more impactful level than pure imitation of something one had seen.
Some of the most real and raw performances, art, the best songs and sales pages in the world were birthed, created, written out of pain. Out of the absolute certain first hand understanding of knowing exactly how it is to experience the pain of that particular problem, so that, when they write about it, the person reading inevitably reacts with “omg, it’s like you were in my HEAD and wrote that just for ME" and there’s that instant resonance over just how much you get it, because you’ve both lived it. It becomes a visceral, felt experience, beyond being just an exercise in intellectual attempted understanding. In that raw, unbridled honesty of experience, that direct connection to the full spectrum of one’s life force and experience in motion in those moments, one becomes completely free to flow in the creative process. That’s why Maria Elena’s work is praised as being “genius” in that movie, of all of the artists in Juan Antonia, who (reluctantly) admits to Christina (after first calling his ex wife delusional for naming it out loud in front of them) admits to having been influenced by Maria Elena and to attempting to make sense of his own art and creative process through his emotional connection with her, and in Christina, who admits to being jealous of Elena’s genius being able to inspire Juan Antonio, only to find her own photographic genius with a little Coaching from Maria Elena. Maria Elena, of all of them is the most undeniably sensitive and in deepest, honest connection with the light side and dark side of everything she feels. She holds back nothing. It’s no wonder her work looks alive, because she feels alive, in a way that Vicky, trying to make sense of feeling from a safe intellectual distance, can never quite grasp. Is it sustainable to operate at that emotional level of intensity all the time? Like i said last week, no. But in bursts and in the integration period that follows, there's gold in there.
But of course there artistic talent is not JUST coming from pain alone. For their to BE any artistic genius inspired by the pain, FIRST, there had to have been love, for any of them to care enough for there to be pain. And that’s one of the main things that Vicky Christina Barcelona highlights so well, for all of the characters involved in that movie, they’re ALL craving and all, in their own unique ways, intellectually fighting the deep longing and their craving to surrender to the depth of love and consequently experiencing life with the degree of intensity, abandon and freedom of Juan Antonio and Maria Elena…while simultaneously, in everyday reality, trying to balance emotional maturity and responsibility for the degree of collateral emotional damage that can occur when people, wether single or in committed adult relationships, just start following every whim of their passion all over the place.
The point though, great love and creativity go hand in hand. Takeaway: and to be able to be ON in your creativity, it helps to have your feeling self in the ON position. The deeper your own experience of life, the deeper, the more alive and deeply relevant your own art can become.
Our life force and creative energy are one and the same. The more we allow ourselves to feel the energy of love coursing through our bloodstreams, into every cell and fibre of our beings, no matter who or what it’s for, the more we allow the flow of our life force and the energy of our desire to flow through us, the greater our access to our creativity. While the energy is flowing, its then up to us to determine the direction of it’s expression.
How that might look might be a little different for everyone. Be it aromatherapy, building, chemistry, cooking, dance, drama, designing apps or software or tech or home interiors or office procedures or online programs or products, drawing, engineering, fashion design, gardening, media and movie production, mothering, fathering, music, painting, playing, sculpting, sexuality, singing, speaking, writing (and I could go on) every single one of us, as Maya Angelou says, was born a creator, able to creative any number of possible things and outcomes. It’s not a skill only available to a gifted few. And as i got a bold reminder in reproductive health form recently, when you repress your deepest desires in life and how your creative energy wants to express in your world and or pour it into the wrong relationships or projects, you get health problems. For women, fibroid shaped health problems as one example. For men, prostate problems for one example. But the physical side is a WHOLE other blog in itself. For now....
How do we commonly get stuck in our creative flow?
When we let our heads get up in the mix. While it is important to set an intention about what you want to create when it comes to being of service in our work (even if you’re about to freestyle dance or improvise for example with the intention simply to express and feel the flow, it can still look beautiful and or become anything from bland to hilarious to captivating on the way), we can start getting in our own way when we start worrying about creating something perfect from the outset and try and make every step, every stroke, every word perfect. Perfect to impress or gain the approval of someone, somewhere…maybe a Mentor, maybe your peers, family, whoever’s love and approval we fear to lose. When we start worrying too much about what we’ll lose or who if we DON’T get it perfect for any people it may have been created for, e.g. our clients or audience, this too can see us get stuck. Whatever we imagine the potential losses to be, this is what we often fear. Unlike sticking to and copying the known and what we’ve observed elsewhere might have been successful, creativity is the zone of risk in comparison. Particularly when one is playing with finite resources one has a strong attachment to. Any hint of the potential reality of a negative outcome or being cast out for our work can be enough to motivate us to chose any number of activities in another direction. Any direction than to pick up the tools of the expression of our craft. Thus the fear of the consequences of our creativity can be a block. We might also nail it and blow the world away with our awesomeness, but the brain’s survival functions are less innately concerned with noticing that. We have to re-train ourselves to stay out of our heads and stay in the flow, in alignment with our original creative intention.
How can you fix that? For me it means not stopping to edit or analyse mid process, mid writing or video recording or mid dance. Sometimes it means posting it faster than I have time to re-edit it 16 times over the next day (and restraining myself from another 16 when I do.) Sometimes it also means getting up, walking away and doing something else, like going for a walk, going to the beach, leaning on a tree, watching something funny, playing with the animals or family or friends kids, ringing a friend, or taking a leaf out of Christina’s, Maria Elena and Juan Antonio’s book above and making love. Without a doubt the times in my life with the greatest frequency of sexual activity or or at least simply feel connected through love, have preceded some of the greatest creativity and inevitable success and ease of manifestation. Again, it puts you back in deep connection with the whole of yourself beyond the minds voice, your life force energy is flowing in abundance and you’re fully here and feeling life in the process.
It’s not just the consequences of creativity that can block us. Any recent or past experience that we’d rather forget or not acknowledge exists, let alone feel, wether something we did or something that was “done to us”, can be enough to get us stuck as we try to repress or avoid it ongoingly. To repress it, is literally to put part of our energy flow on pause. The more we try and deny and hide from their existence, the less creative and inspired we feel. What we feel instead feels like the nothingness that fills the space when you’ve grabbed the remote and the story is on pause. Intellectually, you can still conceive of concepts and brainstorm, you can produce from existing knowledge and technique. But somehow it can lack that unique something that comes through when you’re in the flow of love and life force. The remedy? At some point on a regular basis, you’ve got to make time to turn towards it, own it and feel it. And do whatever you have to to make peace with it and restore the flow of love and compassion, for oneself and others. Then find your way out the other side. Then you can pay forward the gold for others.
Finally, what is it that we fill ourselves up with instead of our own life force energy, inspiration and creativity? When we’re not fully claiming that or pursuing a meaningful purpose, when we’re disconnected from or repressing ourselves and our desires, we can feel empty inside. And we long to fill that emptiness, that void with something, anything. Wether it be someone else’s vision and mission at work we take on, wether it be by becoming consumed and infatuated totally with someone else’s energy or passion and lose our own within that, by taking on someone else’s identity, words, work, processes and techniques, franchises as our own, wether it be food, or drugs or alcohol or sex or embroiling ourselves in or even creating a bunch of drama just to feel the highs and lows we secretly crave, but had lost, when we’re not filling up with our own energy and life purpose, these are the things we reach for and fill up with instead. Maybe it’s even processing others energy for them so that we feel we have that purpose. The trouble is, many of these are temporary highs, relatively transient and potentially fleeting, or can be taken away, compared to filling oneself up daily with one’s own energy, soulful purpose and creative potential and allowing for its expression in life affirming, healthy ways. That’s not to say its wrong to derive happiness, inspiration and creativity from them, but, like Liz Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, how do you maintain balance in doing so, to make room for your own creations to come through?
"Creativity and plagiarism are nearly indivisible." - David Shields
In a couple of respects, yes. Here's how. When it comes to content and business, it is entirely possible, sure, to have massive success taking other people’s creations, processes, systems and content (you have permission or have been licensed to use) that have proven successful in speaking to a markets aspirations and meeting a market’s needs, use them, rebrand them and have massive success imitating and emulating one’s sources of inspiration. I’ve watched people do it and make 7 figures doing it time and time again. But the catch 22 for Art AND personal, business and leadership development work of doing that again comes down to the depth of your own experience and understanding of that content. What do you do the moment you’re in front of a live audience asking questions about it? It’s difficult to go deeper with your clients into content you don’t actually fully yet understand or comprehend yet, because you haven’t lived, considered or experienced whatever part of it first hand, in the same way as it’s creator. Those are the instances we you then need to refer out for help and the answers. When you’ve felt and lived something first hand, when you know it inside out and backwards, intellectually and emotionally, when you’ve explored it yourself to umpteenth levels of depth, because it’s your creation and area of expertise, NOW you have enough familiarity with it to be able to, in academic fashion, take what you learned so far and now contemplate what additional insight and experience you have to add onto and into it and then you can put that out to the world in forms you audience can relate with….as your creativity, your insight, your contribution to the picture. (Our industry calls that Thoughtleadership.) What you’ve created draws far greater interest and can have far greater impact in that respect.
A few additional thoughts on content and the lack and competition paradigm.
I’ve personally found its the completely original programs and offerings of my own making that have got me the most massive momentum over the years, probably because I feel more integral and authentic that way and I can answer 2 hours worth of additional audience questions when I present on them, as the audience delve further into how it relates to them personally. Plus all of us Gen X and Y types onwards were raised to appreciate that we’re all each unique and precious snowflakes of individuality, so its sort of the expectation of our times I think that success means finding your own groove and voice in being of service. That’s not to say don’t use other people’s stuff or partner with people with crazy similar visions, backgrounds and insight when you find the other people out there with whom it’s like looking in a mirror and you wonder if maybe you were secretly separated at birth, if sometimes 10 years apart in how them living the journey NOW is identical to your experience of it 5 years earlier. There’s some divine magic at times going on when this happens and as you do start to partner, a bit like Maria Elena and Juan Antonio in Vicky Christina Barcelona, you can start to wonder where each of yours ends and the others begins, as you breathe into life this collaboration in service to something greater than yourselves.
And the more attuned you all get to your market, it’s incredible how telepathy and intuitive download happens and all of you serving that market end up saying and offering similar things. Wether by synchronicity or even at times some tricky spirit whispering in someones ear perhaps for shits and giggles, it’s honestly blown me away how many times in Business Training over the last 5 years I’ve seen someone in a room download someone else’s program, program names, word for word, or to find two participants, with similar expertise, at opposite sides of the room working on almost identical models at the same time, in recent years. In which case you might reference the other program and laugh over wether their truly IS even such a thing as an original idea on this planet anymore, where, over time, we're seemingly becoming more and more telepathic and vibrationally attuned to one another, while honoring each persons' efforts and maybe suggesting a collaboration or a point of of further exploration and differentiation, as each feels appropriate.
Thats kind of the new norm of modern day 2018 reality, if we can get out of the way of the old lack and competition stories. Easier said than done when you’re in a place of Queen/King of Pentacles, Hearts, Wands and Swords (tarot reference) type security having achieved it all i think. Easily forgotten what it's like when fight flight survive of only having a couple of pentacles left in your bank or those times of life where you gave away too much and temporarily feel like you HAVE no backup support system left in times of transition out off marriages or business partnerships for example and you're trying to get back IN the flow again.
But the remedy in all cases, as i wrote about 3 years ago, when our mind and unresolved past traumas come back to us on the outside showing us our lack and competition stories, those are the times where it’s more important than ever to keep your eyes open to understanding whats going on, owning your shit and to realigning your intentions with service and abundance, as opposed to playing the lack and competition game. With a quick internal re-alignment of your intentions, trust me, you can re-attract support within even the systems still running on the “old school” scarcity and control based systems/consciousness. You can and will, if you get the inner game and basic natural laws of manifestation, gratitude and soulful service right way up again, be met with ease.
When it comes to content, how do you know if you’re crossing a line on the use of someone’s work though? While I’m not one to want to encourage continually operating out of fear, lack and competition, I think it pays to at least familiarise yourself with copyright and trademark legislation in your local region, so that you understand the legal standpoint and how you might honour those around you’s work and ideas. But then, choose to play the love and honour game. Four rules to live by in that:
As has been the case in many of my workshops. presentations and program offerings over the last 7 years, later this year, as always, i'll again by going a little deeper into tools and practices to maximise your creativity, as well as own your wisdom and share it out into the world with confidence and clarity those important messages you're here to share with the world. Until then, while i keep taking a little downtime to heal my organs of creation (yes, i know, oh the irony! I know it, because i had to heal it) may love be your inspiration.
Until next time, have fun, take care.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.