My Creative Experiment – 7 Days of Silence

So – seven days, no speaking.

I woke up in the middle of the night to turn on the air conditioning and fend off the inevitable Toronto humidity and realized that I was technically allowed to speak.

I had no desire to do so.

One would think I’d have hummed a little song, made a big noise or at least tested out a sentence but in this week I’ve realized that for a person who speaks so much I really do enjoy the quiet.

There’s something in the stillness, in the discipline, that brings a sort of peace and steadiness that I’ve never experienced before. It brings a calm that is foreign to my overactive mind and mouth.

Though it’s been frustrating and at times lonely it’s also been a gateway into my own passions, communication and relationships.

The inability to speak leaves limitless space for others to express themselves. Sitting back and watching another inhabit that space, occupy a verbal place that is shared but that they are the only actor in is actually quite beautiful.

It seems that the small nuances are magnified. In myself all of the little reactive noises that I make are amplified and my actions and expressions are bigger and more dramatic. Yesterday reconnected me with my love of acting, of physical excitement and creation. But in others I witnessed other amazing characteristics grow larger and more evident.

My mother’s generosity, warmth and kindness exploded as the week passed. Her fierce love was still ever present but, typically quiet and subtle, her support was more expressed.

On Wednesday I went for tea and a movie with my best friend and realized we didn’t need language. Only a few moments in we were laughing and joking and she too was communicating mostly in gestures. It felt so good to know that even without words we have so much and can spend hours together loving the company and laughing from our bellies. Our friends, as chosen family, are such an incredible gift and it was amazing to have this chance to really witness the power of our friendship in small but significant glory.

Last night was spent with someone new(ish). I think both of us were quite concerned that it would be awkward, spending hours together when I couldn’t speak, being so close to the start of our friendship but it was really wonderful.

Not being able to verbalize responses, leaving more space for his expression and focusing our interaction outward brought out a side of him that I’d not seen before. It brought out mutual silliness, new forms of expression and shared stillness. It was so much fun.

I’m not sure that this is doing such a great job of explaining my experience of silence. Maybe I’m still too close to it or maybe it isn’t meant to be expressed in words but I am proud that I made it through and I am happy that it’s over.

As a creative exercise it’s been deeply valuable and I’m excited to start creating – to paint, to sing, to write and move with this in my physical and experiential memory. I already feel it lending fresh energy to my life and my perspective.

I’ll definitely do it again, but maybe next time it will be outside of the city. I get the feeling that being surrounded by nature, by quiet and earthly beauty will bring a whole new experience to the fore, allowing for more active creation, for the work to be the focus rather than the result.

Happy weekend beauties, I hope you get out in the sunshine and remember to play…

xx

My fixation with TED talks

So, if you’ve been following along at all you will have noticed that I have a bit of an addiction to TED.

As anyone who is friends with me on a social network will attest to – I love TED. I love watching, discussing, sharing and being inspired by the 20 minute talks.

I love their premise, I love their soul and I love that they can be seen in dozens of languages around the world. I love the freedom of knowledge they represent and the limitlessness of our potentials as humans who choose to dare greatly.

Funny that should use that term, Dare Greatly. It’s actually from my very favourite TED talk, one that I make a point of rewatching every few months. It’s a talk that has changed my life, led to my business and informs all of  my interactions. Whether I succeed or not I try to keep it in mind as I interact with friends, colleagues, family and kids. Especially kids.

Maybe you’ve seen this already but I encourage you to have another watch, there is so much value to be derived whether you watch it with yourself, a friend, work or kids in mind…

Here’s to TED – Enjoy!

Absolutes, Definitions and Limitations

It’s so easy to speak in absolutes – people are optimists or downers, they are hard workers or smart or lazy or outgoing.

It’s natural for us to want to define one another, and ourselves, but it’s also dangerous. The more I delve into the psychology of creativity and innovation the more I encounter the inherent complexity of humans. Our stories are powerful and varied with many sides and voices. Well-formed stories can represent our values, our social norms and our cultural viewpoints all in the space of a few lines of text.

Think for a moment – what adjectives do you use to describe yourself? Are there many? Are they contradictory? Where are they sourced from?

There was an interesting moment one day last week when I found myself  admonishing myself for not spending enough time with someone important to me. Automatically I was calling myself a bad friend. The thing is though, if I were to be speaking to anyone else I would have the logical mind to remind him or her that starting a business, active learning and maintaining personal and professional relationships takes a lot of time. I would remind that friend that one missed opportunity does not define a person.

In the same way that I am not defined by that experience, people are not one creative or non-creative based on their past actions.

There are so many chances to look at the world differently, to suggest a new or innovative path or process – whether in work, at school or elsewhere in life – that it is unlikely that any of us is non-creative. In fact, it’s more likely that we are trapped in narratives that define creative people only as artists, writers, dancers and those working in “creative” fields like advertising.

Imagine what you could be doing if, from youth, you’d been told that science, accounting, law or banking were also creative fields. What new products, procedures or  revenue streams might you be developing if your mind was more open to the potential for creativity in all professions?

The narratives and stories that we share and those we impose and ourselves and others can be limiting and even dangerous as the video below reveals. In the video below, Chimamanda Adichie uses her experience as an author, a Nigerian and an African student in America to take a look at the power of stories and of definition.

Some more questions for today – What are you imposing on yourself? How could a new perspective free up your ideas your relationships and your mind?

L

What Do Babies Think? Play as R&D for the Human Species.

“What’s it like to be a baby? It’s like being in love in Paris for the first time after you’ve had three double espressos.”

In this wonderful talk psychologist Alison Gopnik reveals the findings of her work with babies and their learning patterns. Through her experiments she discovered that babies are the Research and Development arm of the human species, what she realized is that babies are actually involved in sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.

Her conclusion? Maybe, at least some of the time, we should be getting adults to start thinking more like children… Enjoy!