Creativity

Life’s continuous explosion of creativity, of joy, love and beauty can be found at the center of every human heart. Children are good examples of this. Give a child a handful of pick-up sticks, crayons, and a sheet of paper. In moments, he or she will create abstract sculptures, folksy art, things that make us laugh and fill us with wonder. Artists spend a lifetime trying to capture creativity that flows spontaneously through children. The same is true for individuals who open their hearts to discover hidden treasures beneath layers of emotional turmoil. From the mundane to the complex, situations can force one to reinvent oneself. For most people, it’s the opposite. Their habits have become ruts. A person’s job is the best example. Habitual, the same old thing, a boring day-by-day, month after month, year after year drudgery done by rote for a paycheck that sucks creative juice from the core of one’s being, an invisible form of vampirism that need not exist if we transform a strict, conceptualized mentality into one that recognizes the sacredness of each moment.

In my early twenties, I worked in the junk mail division of the U.S. Postal Service at a conveyor system that extended half the length of its warehouse floor. A three-foot-high assortment of magazines, advertisements, every kind of circular and promotion, the kind of stuff I tossed in the garbage without ever reading, moved non-stop past five postal grunts whose job was to sort useless mail. Fifteen bags dangled in front of each postal worker, each with a sign that depicted a different city or state in the U.S. Twelve grueling hours a day I distributed junk mail into their appropriate bags. At the third hour, bored to tears, I reinvented myself and became a basketball star, a regular New York Knick who shot magazines and circulars into junk mail bags. I scored 30 points a game. At my shift’s end, I was an NBA superstar who desperately needed basketball expertise to keep himself from going nuts. I quit the job the day I had thrown a half-dozen circulars with a Newark address into a Chicago mailbag…and left them there. After I picked up a magazine addressed to someone in Paris with a Copenhagen return address, I laughed out loud. A postal worker in Copenhagen threw the magazine into a New York City bag instead of the one marked Paris, shrugged his shoulders, and thought, “The hell with it. Let the Americans worry about this piece of crap when it gets to New York City.” I realized that “bored postal worker” had become an international disease. It was time to quit my job. I had exhausted whatever I was supposed to learn, and Post Office karma came to an end. The cycle completed itself. I had to find another job, but hopefully, I thought, one that didn’t require adroit basketball skills.

To free myself from the rut of boredom, I ceased to blame the external world for my inner condition.

In the early 1960’s I studied acting in New York. I asked my teacher how one keeps from getting bored after one has repeated the same lines hundreds of times over the course of a play’s run. “You have to find newness every time you perform,” he responded. “If not, the play gets stale; the audience knows it; the excitement and drama disappear, and you have a flop on your hands. The actor’s craft enables him to make the part fresh each night.”

Repetitive activity causes most people’s lives to grow stale. They tolerate jobs they hate, other folks that oppress them, and boring day-to-day similitude that shreds originality. The staid disappears when we find newness in repetitive activity and cease to take our lives for granted. Advertisers understand that you must present “the new and improved” version of a product to get people to buy it. Human beings need to refresh themselves to keep boredom at bay and cease to live a death-in-life existence, a Dodo and Didi-esque absurd world that waits comically for “Godot” to make an entrance. There’s the next moment, and the next, in a farcical repetition of life events that take them nowhere. They don’t mine a treasure trove of creativity hidden in the “now”; they don’t eliminate past and future delusional thoughts that consume the minds and emotions of people afflicted by a lethargic present lived by rote.

To free myself from the rut of boredom, I ceased to blame the external world for my inner condition. I discovered the source of my problem: a weak chakra system, no core development, internal chaos and dysfunction. I was the problem, but I also held its solution. I transformed an ordinary by-rote life into something extraordinary when I mastered inner chaos and learned to use my mind and breath properly; I discovered a source of internal power: the hara, chi, foundation, harmony and balance, all located at my core, and I found a way to transform boredom and mediocrity into a magical improvisation that brought joy to my heart. Kundalini yoga became an alchemical transformation of my life’s garbage (tension) into gold, a resurrection of my internal system that allowed me to connect with Higher Energy in the Universe, a renewal of consciousness, a moment-to-moment rebirth that disrupted the familiar, the boring, the mundane, and changed the way I saw my day. It eliminated life-ruts that once converted a living, breathing person into an automaton.

Daily activity stimulated internal growth and opened me to endless sources of creativity. My need to grow spiritually determined how deeply I worked to transform dysfunction into positive experience, boredom into a creative life, and not a path that led directly to the grave. It transformed my negative experience into a joyous and happy lifestyle in which every moment was sacred. The objective world was a mirror-image of my inner life. It reminded me of work I had to do on myself. It’s still a constant reminder that lethargic mental and emotional quicksand need not determine the course of my day.

Every human being has mind, breath and a chakra system. They’re tools that can change boredom into life’s wonderment. It’s easy to procrastinate and difficult to commit to internal change and growth. Time is a constant drumbeat, a reminder of how essential it is to do something about oneself, how internal change, a step into the unknown, an improvisatory approach to life, transforms stagnant energy into dynamic well-being…

(To be continued…)

Abraham and three Angels Marc Chagall

“Abraham and Three Angels”, Marc Chagall, oil on canvas