Creativity: I Felt I Was Living a Double Life
The creative process extends into everything you do.
Posted Apr 29, 2018
“I felt I was living a kind of double life,” poet Galway Kinnell said of his boyhood, as he discovered a growing fondness and bonding with art (which for him was poetry). He was referring to the one life he was living in public with all the people he knew and another that was a sort of hidden life, in his room with poems he would read, late into the night. I am sure the sentiment has been felt by creative individuals throughout history. One often feels a kind of bonding in a sense of heightened experience and potentially insight.
But not only poets and artists feel this way. A lot of people present themselves differently in various situations — e.g. when you are in an office meeting, as opposed to when you are on a road trip with your family or in the middle of a job interview. For most people, the profile you put out in conversation, language choices, shared memories — and personal talent — all are affected. But I’m after different fish here.
Let’s widen the lens for a minute. Business News Daily reported in 2012 that the majority of Americans do not maximize their strengths on a daily basis. They additionally cite, “57 percent of people recently surveyed said they use their strengths for just six hours or fewer a day.” That kind of ration can have negative repercussions. Task satisfaction and personal development, as well as social camaraderie and overall happiness, can all be distressed.
Not shocking, the problem in 2012 didn’t stay in 2012. A 2017 Gallup Poll reported that around 70 percent of American workers are disengaged at work. If you are thinking that’s harsh, Gallop stats showed the worldwide disengagement to be at 85 percent. In March 2017, CBS News identified 51 percent of workers as not being engaged at work — meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs, and thus they tend to do the bare minimum. Add to that another 16 percent whom they reported are “actively disengaged” — meaning they resent their jobs — and you get a 67 percent disengagement. The numbers are all about the same. An informal survey I conducted among millennial college-goers in 2014 showed 82 percent feeling their best skills had nothing to do with their employment.
Creativity Can Help Just About Anyone
The creative process, for Kinnell and the rest of us, is a gateway to laying out the two worlds — outer and inner — for yourself, looking at them and listening to them closely. This process is restorative, identifying, assembling, and digging into things that are nutritious to your best skills. Keeping a broad view of what you can do to bring your inner and outer worlds closer together is important. Narrowing your focus helps you pick out and assemble the details. For example, an individual can combine her talents and pleasures in social skills with other areas of vocational expertise. You might creatively assemble a dinner party, for instance, with friends and colleagues that share your interest and skill base in a certain area. This approach can be enhanced by asking yourself what other activity you can blend into the event that will fuel everyone’s interests even further. Perhaps you have a friend or a colleague, for example, who is a lawyer and also has a penchant for literature. Your partner has a background in literature, you in psychology, and all enjoy politics, so you assemble a dinner party and kick the date off with a trip to the theater to see a new movie, like Chappaquiddick. Later, you let the conversations flow. Or say you love writing, so you ask someone for an interview. You prepare your questions, and go out for coffee together, then write your article or blog. So you are tripling the time you use your talents, sharing them and having them recognized. In this mindset, your work becomes your play, and vice versa.
You can creatively arrange trips that fuel your skills. For example, if you are skilled in literature, painting, and/or photography — regardless of what you do at work — you may like to make a pilgrimage to New Mexico to visit the areas where D.H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Ansel Adams, and Georgia O’Keeffe visited and worked. Some individuals like to bring a playlist of YouTube videos with them that will add inspirational fuel to the pilgrimage. On a personal note, I like to enhance such escapades with philosophical or scientific reading (or videos) that provide academic or professional discussion to the topic, which may inspire the use or development of new skills. There are endless ways you can creatively assemble pockets of time and space into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines where the inside you and outside you feel more in sync.
The creative process extends into everything you do. It is not solely for creative arts. You can creatively amass numerous rich activities to feed a starving proficiency in any discipline: business, science, community service, the list goes on.
When you shine the lamp of your attention below the surface of activities, as well as deeper into yourself — real needs and wants — you help distinguish between the proverbial (and sometimes random) spokes that make up your life, and start attaching them more strategically to the hub — which is who you are on the inside. In this way, you can begin to shift the balance of hours, so you feel like you are living, growing, and further getting to know the person you are and are capable of being. As one experiences these benefits more often, each step of the process starts to become more fulfilling, and eventually a flip occurs: The process itself becomes the point — the reward. Something more to consider: As you rehab unused talents, further develop them, and synchronize them, extending them more into your outer world as well as sharing them with the world of others, you open to new opportunities where the possibility of making work and play "one" ever increases.
Clifton, Jim. “The World's Broken Workplace.” News.Gallup.com. June 13, 2017.
Mielach, Dave. “Is Your Talent Wasted At Work?” BusinessNewsDaily.com. September 13, 2012.
Robaton, Anna. “Why So Many Americans Hate Their Job.” CBSNews.com. March 31, 2017.