I was watching a cooking competition the other day – mainly to enjoy its dysfunctional drama – and heard one of the aspiring chefs say proudly, ‘That’s me on a plate!”
Meaning, this dish incorporates my personal history and personality, expresses what I think is important about food, and represents the height of my talent and skill.
I get it. Any kind of creative endeavor shared with the world feels like “me on a plate,” or in a book, or on a canvas, or in a song, or a business idea, or a new organization.
The only problem being, when we identify our creative expressions as “me,” then criticism can be devastating.
But is it really “me?”
I often hear that producing a book, a sculpture or a new music CD is like childbirth, and many creative people are as fiercely protective of their work as they would be of a child.
But even a real child is not “me.”
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
—Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“Life’s longing for itself.” Coming through you.All creativity, all inventions, all ideas are Life pushing itself into manifestation, like a flower growing up through the sidewalk.
We are merely the channels through which this force moves.
Yes, it is shaped by our experiences and talent. An idea that becomes a blog through me, might become a song through someone else.
But our primary job, the one way we can become more creative, is to allow the flow of Life to move through us into expression and stay out of its way.
The more purely we can be conduits for this beautiful cascade of creative energy, the less we need worry about how it is received in the world.
Don’t like it? Take it up with God!
This idea helps depersonalize criticism, and also offers a new way to think about work as co-creation with the divine, carrying out the ideas of the Higher Self.
Or communicating with the ideas themselves.
In Big Magic, a book by Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity, she suggests that ideas are entities seeking expression. If one person is unreceptive, the idea will try another.
Haven’t you ever had an idea for a great invention, done nothing, then months later seen that someone else actually invented it? The idea found a willing participant.
Maybe the ideas are always around us, just waiting for an opening in our busy minds.
I believe that even the most talented artists are working with forces bigger than themselves. The ideas, the skill, the wherewithal to make it happen might all be orchestrated by unseen powers.
Isn’t that version of creativity more fun? Instead of a chore or an obligation or a way to make a living?
Whatever your current endeavors, wake up tomorrow and consciously ask for ideas. Offer to be the channel of their expression.
Then notice how brilliant you seem to become!
PS — I’d love to hear about the creative work you’re doing right now. And I’d especially like to hear where the idea came from.