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Posts tagged ‘T.S. Eliot’

Creative Limits

July 27, 2012


No Admittance“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost—and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”  – T.S. Eliot

Nothing is more terrifying to an artist or a writer than an empty canvas or a blank sheet of paper. When we think of creativity, we think of freedom, no limits, other than our own imagination. But when we’re faced with too many choices, we freeze-up, get overwhelmed—become blocked.

One way to overcome these barriers, is to establish boundaries for our work. These restrictions can be liberating. Borders, fences, lines, frames—define our creative effort—they help us focus as we mix and match the limited elements to create the finished artwork. When we set self-imposed constraints for a project, like time, money, or materials, we narrow the field of possibilities and challenge ourselves to come up with a solution based on what’s available. It’s when we’re at our best creatively.

Whether it’s a haiku poem, a twenty minute presentation, a book, a painting, a photograph, a song or a dance—creative limits provide structure and clarity.

This can work for us in all areas of our life. When we have many possibilities we often end up doing nothing. But when we layout our own road map and create milestones with deadlines, we get a better understanding of our destination—of where we want to go and what we want to do along the way.

“If you have five elements available use only four. If you have four elements use three.” Pablo Picasso

Stay within the lines, the lines are our friends.

Our Search

July 10, 2012


man meditating by ocean sunset

“It is very reasonable to want to understand something of our context in a broader universe, awesome and vast. It is also reasonable for us to want to understand something about ourselves. This two-pronged investigation into the nature of the world and the nature of ourselves, is to a very major degree, I believe, what the human enterprise is about.”  – Carl Sagan

When I was five or six years old, I asked my parents “Why am I me?” I don’t remember what they told me, since no one really knows the answer—but I’m still asking myself that question.

My existence in the universe has been like coming into a movie that’s already started—knowing that I’ll be leaving before it’s over. I wasn’t there to see the beginning—and I won’t be here to see how it ends. So while I’m alive, I want to learn as much as I can about what’s going on and who I am.

Society sets us on a path: religion, education, civic duty, work, marriage, raising a family, retirement and death—not necessarily in that order.

But what’s the bigger picture? What’s all this suppose to really mean—if anything? I may never know for sure—but I’m starting to understand.

It’s the experience—learning and evolving—being true to yourself—even if it doesn’t make money. It’s helping fellow travelers along the way—it’s the journey.

T.S. Eliot sums it up nicely— “The end of our exploring will be to arrive at where we started, and to know the place for the first time.”

So enjoy the ride and try not to miss too much of the scenery.

“Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina