"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Taking Time Off

Sometimes we get stuck as artists and the creative well feels as though it has dried up. One thing I’d like to suggest if this happens to you, is to deliberately not work at all for a month. One bad thing we do to ourselves is to ramp the guilt level higher and higher until we can’t think about anything else. It’s a little like picking at a scab. You keep picking and you can’t resist, but if you keep it up, the wound will never heal.

If self-discipline is practiced by working every day, it can also be practiced by intentionally NOT working every day! You aren’t off the hook for a month just because you decide not to make art or write. You must still commit to observing and recording the thoughts you have about art making or writing – whether they are good or bad. No one’s career is going to be ruined by not working for a month, but a month of study of the thoughts that arise around the topic of working should provide insight into what to do next - that is, in terms of your creative endeavors. Maybe half way through the month you’ll REALLY want to make something. That would break your agreement with yourself, so you’ll have to negotiate new territory – which I suspect would be very enlightening.

My own daughter begged to be given a year off from school after her sophomore year in college. The whole idea worried me, but she was adamant. I recognized the stand off that was beginning for what it was, and acquiesced, with some stipulations. She could take the year off as long as she agreed to do some traveling and engage in a few educational “experiences.” Halfway through the year she announced she was bored and missed the challenges of school. She enrolled in a community college for two semesters, and returned to her other college the following term. Zenna needed, as do we all, to experience the feeling of being without. Perhaps there is no greater motivator than missing something we used to do, and realizing we could go back to it, if only we choose to do so.

My goal in suggesting this strategy is to offer you an opportunity to reach a clearer understanding of your motivations, the level of your interest (which might be quite different from what you imagine it to be) and your sense of purpose or dedication. Relinquishing the hold guilt has in favor of a period of open-ended contemplation usually proves to be helpful.

1 comment:

  1. I have read this several times. You pretty much said it--no comments needed! You also know this is easier said than done. C. P. Estes, discussing "the red shoes" story, speaks of giving in to taking the easy way, settling for "almost". I do need time away from my art. There's a fine line there; the artist must learn to recognize it. Isn't that the role of intention?

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