Find a quiet room and listen. What happens? Suddenly, quiet is more like a symphony of sounds. The hum of a computer, the sound of traffic, air through the window, construction across the street, an airplane overhead, the dog’s breath. Sounds that had been there all along, uncovered like an archeological dig into your own perception.
Go quieter still. A pillow over your head, submerge in a bathtub or pool, cancel the noise. Now what? Your own breathing, the noise of your thoughts. Let’s talk about this place.
This is the uncomfortable human stillness. The one that we avoid with to-do lists and obligations, social media and conversation. Even with our own art. As annoying going out to get ice and gassing up the car is, it is far less uncomfortable than sitting alone with our thoughts. But it is here where your deep creativity dwells.
What is deep creativity and how does it differ from normal creativity?
Normal creativity is the creativity of a child. All children have it. It is free association. It is pleasure. Let’s pretend you can’t see me because I’m under the covers. Let’s go in a tree house and fight fictitious dragons. Let’s draw what we see, paint the light and feel the wet clay take form in our hands. That’s normal creativity — it is beautiful and divine.
Deep creativity flips the coin over from flesh to bone. It digs down. It siphons from the black well of your fears and insecurities. It rubs its thumb in the stains of your awful memories, abandonment, violations, flooded and gutted rooms, hypochondria, destitution and ugliness and then uses the billions of varied hues of those smudges for art. It transfers these smudges to the canvas.
It does not need to be negative. It does not need to emanate out of a black hole created by humanity’s sickness. But, still, it would not exist without it. Just as life would not. Even great, touching beauty — a snow-capped mountain — can overwhelm to the point of debilitation and epic sadness. We’ve all been there. I knew a man who cried only once in his entire life, and it wasn’t at the end of his tragically short life — it was peacefully fishing in Montana.
This is deep creativity. It is the abyss of humanity — the one we get to only through a purposeful journey down into ourselves. And to do it, we must remove the noise.
How do you harness this power and what can it do?
You stay in that quiet. When every last drop of energy in your body tells you to go back to the small everyday things — to the snacks and the responsibilities, to the random thoughts and repetitive worries — stay. Stay longer than you ever have. It will come. It has been waiting for you.
What will come first is an emotion. Agitation. Nervousness. Restlessness. Just a feeling. Then you’ll want to rationalize it. And that rationalization won’t make sense and you’ll give up. You’ll want to move on, but stay longer. That’s when the creativity happens. Your mind races, you’re swimming around in a deep humanity now — a community pool where only deep thinkers dwell. Only a handful of people can hang out at a time, but they are all there. Bukowski is there. Hunter S. And Plath.
What it does is put you in touch with the true, underlying issues of your time. It strips away the words and labels — which in normal times help us cope with all the complexity — and let’s you feel the full brunt of life. Stay in it. These are answers that plague you during life’s race. This is the response to: isn’t there something more? This is deep creativity. It’s a real place and some stay too long and go crazy. That’s up to you. I’ve been there and it’s not as bad as you think. But it is not success. You don’t win there. You aren’t admired there. You’re a nomad, a monk, a celibate priest. That’s the trade off. But if you learn how to visit — oh, if you learn…
Your songs are suddenly more than a hook. Your paintings, more than realism. Your writing, beyond the hero’s journey. Your true art, the one that people feel beyond your technique… this is what is found there. Because the truth of deep creativity is that this is where you go beyond your self. And beyond your self is where the rest of humanity waits.
Which is why the artist who masters the quiet is the one who gets heard.
By Josh S. Rose, 2017