The Muse Cometh

The Muse Cometh…in her own time, in her own way. 

A ramble here…

I’m at work.  I should be doing work things.  In fact, I was until just seconds ago when I read a great piece in the NYT called “The ‘Busy’ Trap.”   I particularly like this passage:

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking.

What has happened to the concept of “reflection”?  How many times have you stopped and thought about…absolutely nothing…and done that for more than 2 minutes?  I don’t mean meditating.  I mean the practice of what used to be a reflexive act of spacing out.  It’s become more like an Art now.  So very few of us do it or do it well.  I don’t space out nearly as often as I used to.  The interesting thing is that without those mental wanderings to Wherever I find it has become increasingly more difficult to be creative, to have something meaningful to say, to connect pieces together.

How do we keep churning out content — much less truly innovate — if we never have time to Not Think?  I haven’t a clue.  It feels increasingly like a mouse running in a wheel, going faster and faster but going nowhere fast.

Neil Diamond used to sing “Don’t think…feel.  It’s no big deal.  Just make it real.  And don’t think…feel.” 

You know what?  It’s become a big deal.  Isn’t it amazing?  But it really has.


3 thoughts on “The Muse Cometh

  1. Good post on a subject that deserves more attention!

    I can sure relate to the hamster wheel sentiment. Tracking clicks on Twitter links or hits on a particular web post makes it obvious that just about everything we share falls off the edge of Planet Attention within a few hours. Maybe a week at most for an especially hot topic.

    I tend to think through things through and tap my subconscious through the process of creation. But ideas have to start somewhere. Early mornings are usually when I take time the time to daydream.

    1. Botgirl, yeah, the pace keeps accelerating doesn’t it? It’s no longer the 24 hour news cycle. It’s now the Per Second News Cycle. That type of velocity is enough to disorient anybody. And I can’t phathom where creativity, real meaning, or innovation comes from when every second is bombarded with tasks. I agree…early mornings are the best time for me as well precisely because the world (and my head) is quiet. And I feel like I can breathe a bit and just gaze at the sky or listen to the birds or the breeze. It’s surprising how refreshing and soothing that is and how the mind starts to becomes interested in a deeper way about life in the moment. I find myself doing that type of subconscious-level of creating when I walk on the treadmill. I don’t have an iPod and the TV monitors typically carry boring talking heads. I usually have the best ideas for weblog entries when I’m on the treadmill.

      Ahuva, it’s definitely a cultural phenomenon, I agree. The busy-ness extends all the way down to children…one of the funniest bits on this I heard was the famous Ted Talks by Sir Ken Robinson when he describes 3 year olds polishing up their resumes in order to be accepted into private schools. Humor has a basis in truth much of the time! Also agree that the line between Work-Life values and behaviors has been blurring for a long time and most aggressively now with Gen Y, as the link you shared illustrates. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out in the midst of these cultural tensions between the “established” way of Corporate America and the “desired” way of Gen Yers. And equally interesting to see how Gen Y reacts when they figure out that instead of being immortal they are as replaceable and as human as the next person.

  2. I read that article as well. I look at articles about successful CEOs and entrepreneurs and “creative geniuses” and they all talk about taking time to reflect and rest and step away. Cynically, I wonder if they are able to do that because they shut their eyes to what they demand from everyone else. I look at corporate cultures that demand more and more from the workers and return less and less to them. Where workers feel obliged to work extended hours, skip breaks, all because there is always someone else who is hungry for their job. Now look at what they say about the “younger” generation in the workforce: “…..agree that their jobs should reflect their lifestyle, their workplace should be social and fun, and they should have flexible hours and autonomy over the projects they’ve been assigned”. Very interesting juxtapositions.

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