Tetris of the creativity kind

We may all have different conceptions of creativity, but I hope you agree that creativity isn’t just for artistic activities like drawing or writing. It is relevant to other areas of life. Philosophy, martial arts and cooking alike require one to see hidden connections; finding such connections is a creative act, I believe.

I  worry that I might have lost my creative self, as I grew older. I must say this worry isn’t a huge worry, though. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is another issue. The fact that I don’t worry too much about it may indicate that the situation is quite fatal.

I used to draw a lot as a kid. I could spend hours and hours just drawing. As I grew older, I started to draw less frequently. Now I hardly draw. I can say I’m more playful and less mentally-constrained than the average 26 year old Japanese man, but if I compare myself with my 5 year old self, perhaps I might look like a dork who doesn’t know how to play in the eyes of my 5 year old self. But how can I compare myself with him when it seems I left him behind somewhere along the way. But I believe this: he’s not dead yet.

Now I’m playing Tetris of the creativity kind. I see there is a pile of blocks accumulated over years and years. New blocks keep coming and perhaps they will keep coming. But now I’m on my way to learn how to handle them as well as how to get rid of the old ones that I can recognize. There might be some more buried under what seems to be the bottom row, but that doesn’t worry me, because I will get rid of them. What I’m after is to rescue my creative self buried alive under these blocks.

Towards the end of 2009, I stumbled upon Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. It is a 12 week “course in discovering and recovering your creative self”. Someone on my Twitter time line mentioned this book and it caught my attention. I checked reviews on Amazon and those reviews convinced me to get a copy for myself.

A few weeks ago, again on Twitter, someone else was talking about an event at a cafe in Tokyo. I got curious about this cafe. So, I checked the cafe’s website. In addition to the information I was initially looking for, there was something unexpected and delightful. There was a link to a Facebook group dedicated to the Artist’s Way. The group was to have its first meeting at this cafe in a week or so. Without hesitation, I decided to go to the first meeting and to go through the 12 week course with people from the group. As it turned out, it was not just a group of people, but a group of amazing and interesting people. How can I not enjoy working on the book with them, really.

One obvious advantage of going through this book with others is that you are more likely to finish the course with support and encouragement (and social pressure) from them. If you want to pick up a copy of the book and do the course, I recommend you to form a group and do it together, especially if you tend to ‘get busy’ and to forget eventually about what you’ve started as I sometimes do.

Since all I have done so far is the first week of the course, I am not qualified to write a review of the book. You can read various reviews on its Amazon page if you are interested.

By the way, in the book there are some references to God and whatnot, which might put off some people. But, let me assure you that from the pages I’ve read so far, the content is good. Don’t let those references disturb you.

The book has a contract page and here’s mine…

I, Masafumi Matsumoto, understand that I am undertaking in an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve-week duration of the course. I, Masafumi Matsumoto, commit to weekly reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artist date, and the fulfillment of each week’s tasks.

I, Masafumi Matsumoto, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I, Masafumi Matsumoto, commit myself to excellent self-care—adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and pampering—for the duration of the course.

Masafumi Matsumoto

20 January 2010