Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ponder this Sunday: Pick A Fight

"Creativity is an act of defiance. You're challenging the status quo. You're questioning accepted truths and principles. You're asking three universal questions that mock conventional wisdom.
'Why do I have to obey the rules?'
'Why can't I be different?'
'Why can't I do it my way?'"

"Every act of creation is also an act of destruction or abandonment. Something has to be cast aside to make way for the new.
But those lofty goals are the farthest thing from you mind at the start of a project. ...you need to channel your innate defiance productively. So, pick a fight--with the system, the rules, your rituals, even your everyday routines."

"For one day, be completely contrary, to the point of orneriness and belligerence, with anything and everything you do. Turn everything upside down."

The above words are not mine, but belong to Twyla Tharp. I'm reading her book The Creative Habit. The book combines narration with sections of exercises. One exercise is: do things differently. Break your habits. If you always use Tom's peppermint toothpaste try fennel. Drive to work a different way. Instead of Cheerios for breakfast have an English Muffin with honey. Tharp says such changes will "stimulate your brain and challenge your muscles." The idea is to break out of our ruts to challenge and wake up our minds and creativity.

I broke out of my life rut by moving here with my mom. But then I fell into other ruts. Ruts give me a sense of security in this insecure world. But ruts also can deaden my creativity. Not to mention my soul. On Saturday I drove alone through the hills and valleys of this up country land. It was a little scary, as in most places my cell phone didn't work. I'd feel more comfortable if the phone did work. But at any rate, I had such fun. It was a beautiful day and I found some yard sales and little shops. This break with daily routine cheered me up. And some of the doodads I bought at the yard sales stimulated my creative thoughts.

How about you? What do you think of the idea of picking a fight?? Sounds kinda aggressive doesn't it? What happens to your state of mind when you change an ingrained habit, just for one day? What happens when you reverse you usual ways of doing things and do the opposite?

Photos: flowers and a tomato from my garden.

21 comments:

WILSONART said...

Very artistic photos, as always!
Love the idea of your meandering drives, and the yard sales & shops. Were I there, I'd be singing: "Take Me Along,,," How fun!
Boy can I get into ruts! From the silliest things, like Peanut Butter toast and orange juice for breakfast,,,,every day, over & over,,,to not wanting to try new colors in my artwork.
Sometimes it's very good to be forced into a change,,,look at things through different eyes,,,at least for me! I'm not always good at change.

Honour said...

Suki, I love your Sundays! I completely agree with this perspective of changing things up. One of my dearest friends, who is also a writer / artist, did these creativity workshops, and she learned that our "dendrites" are stimulated when we do something new. Sometimes, when we're feeling down - we're tempted to do something familiar -- comfort food, favorite movie, favorite ice cream -- but in fact, this doesn't improve things in your neurosystem. BUT, when you try a new coffee, a different pathway, smell a different flower, you're forcing your brain to create new connections - new pathways, new dendrites - and you feel better.

So, I actually TRY to do these things and I have found they make a difference. Which is why -- as I make another job transition, instead of jetting off to another country, like I usually do (for me, "travel" is comfort) -- I'm spending a month at home. This is strange. I'm having a bit of a hard time, though -- envying other friends who are travelling. But, I'm sticking it out and will make plans for next year :)

I really love these words: Every act of creation is also an act of destruction or abandonment. Something has to be cast aside to make way for the new. (See - it helps to be reminded, it does actually require work, even if creativity is a grace).

sukipoet said...

Hi Babs. Yes, my drives are for the most part fun. Just a little twinge of fear. Or disorientation. Well, I eat, in the summer, shredded wheat with soy milk for breakfast almost every day. In winter, it's hot cereal. I'm not good at change either so I know what you mean. It is challenging, that's for sure. Thanks for your insights. As always, thought provoking.

Honor, wow. You know i have read that too, that doing things differently is good to help with depression. In that case you are definitely going against one's desire because when I've been depressed I just want the familiar and to hide. Interesting about the dendrites. I like to think of activities and thought patterns effecting the body on a chemical/neurological level like that. Could you mix your month home with a few short travel trips. A meld of home and what you love?

I myself love to stay at home so I guess "travel" would stimulate my dendrites.

When in college I worked in the theatre at all levels from acting to making the stage flats etc. I used to love tearing it all apart at the end of the play. That just made room for the next play to happen. And that is true always. When I write, it is never or rarely "perfect" the first time. I go back in and tear out whole sections sometimes to leave room for the new or so that what is already there shines out.

I think that's why making choices is so hard for me anyway. Each choice is a turning away from another choice and there are always so many. But now, for me, I think: any one of these choices is ok, there is no right choice. Just pick one and go with it for awhile and if it doesnt work amend it.

Get those dendrites popping, make the less familiar choice. (New Motto) :) Thanks for your insights Honor.

Kim said...

I love your "Ponder this Sunday" posts, Suki! Thank you for doing them!

It is funny...I hate things I have to do by rote. I hardly ever do the same things over and over...although I find with my art, as Babs so reminded me, I do like to stick with particular color ways. But with this post and a poke from the two of you, I am stepping outside of that with my next painting. (color being a funny thing which is tied to your eye color, the natural light in ones geographic location and the natural surroundings is a difficult thing for people to change).

I am kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum, though. I never eat the same foods day after day, nor at the same time of day. I have several tubes of toothpaste going, depending on my mood...and will purposefully not brush my teeth the same time each day. I really detest doing things the same way, in the same sequence and at the same time day after day...is this why school pushed my brain to the absolute limit so in turn I pushed back on school the same way? Some professors liked it some didn't. Is this a true rebel? I really am not a rebel in the grand sense of the word, but maybe I am a rebel on a small scale.

I thrive on change...although my husband sure wishes I were not so much this way! LOL

I have looked at this book quite often...so you recommend it?

Thanks So Much Suki for being able to write these each Sunday...you are a better person than I! :)

marianne said...

So funny ........ when I started te read I thought this is not Suki's language. Later I saw it was a quote.
With your thoughts you give me to ponder I really have to ponder first.......
I will first and get back to you ;)

Cris in Oregon said...

Had to think about this awhile.
I dont usually like Change. I leave my furnture the same way for years. But I will change some small things around.
I dont like to do the same thing day in and day out. I dont like to paint the same thing over and over.
I like to be free to do what I want when I want to. and yet I like some things I do on a schedule.
So I am mixed.
I really think I need to get out tour more to change up brain cells tho. :)Maybe to drive somewhere to go walk. See new scenery. Good thinking for today.aa

Cris in Oregon said...

Have no clue what aa is at the end of my sentence. slip of the fingers I guess. lol
Oh someone said that that tall purple weed might be purple loosestrife. Thats what came up in my mind. But I cant find a pix of it to confirm it.

Patti said...

Good for you Suki, taking off on a Sunday adventure!

I am famous for changing my furniture around and would move house every year if my husband let me :) But day to day I tend to be a little boring - same breakfast, same routines. I recently changed the place I walk in the mornings and this opened up so much in my mind. I really felt as though I were thinking differently.

Great post!

sukipoet said...

Kim I love to read about how you have two different tubes of toothpaste and just don't do things according to routine. I see now why you are cool with all the moving you have done. Wow. I wish I could be 1/4 as adventuresome. I can also understand why the conventional school situation would be difficult. So much, at least when I was in school, is done by rote and repetition. Even I found that stifling.

I suppose I gravitate towards the same colors too, but not sure about that. I never knew my eye color influenced the way I saw colors though. That is intersting.

Kim in no way am I a better woman than you. Good heavens. Or was that tongue in cheek?

I'm not sure yet what I think about Tharp's book. It is well written but i was hoping for more about her own self and life. There is some of that. Much of the creative perspective i have read in other books about creativity. However, some of her exercises are stimulating. So, I guess in the end I would recommend it.

Marianne, you are right. Her language is not my language. I'd never say "Pick a fight" but maybe more like "Try some reversals". But "pick a fight" is fighten language and perks my ears and brain right up.

Cris, I think I'm a mix too because some days I think....if I have to do these dishes one more time. My mom is way more routinized than I and sometimes I have to redirect my mind away from this fact so I don't feel smothered by it somehow. Loosestrife, I will try to remember to google it.

Wow, Patti that's amazing about changing your walk place and changing your mind molecules. that is wonderful. When I had my own house I loved to change furniture around too. Once, I had a boyfriend who came to visit on weekends. He entered the darkened bedroom and flopped onto the bed without turning on a light. He flopped onto the floor. Luckily he wasn't hurt. Yes, I had moved the bed!

Cris in Oregon said...

Suki, I googled Loosestrife and it isnt that. I guess I didnt tell say the flower was dark purple.

Cestandrea said...

Suki hi!:)
What a great post about ruts, rythm and creativity:)
I loved to read your thoughts about this and the answers of the friends...

I love ruts, I install them, and then I love to break them so that I have the feeling of utmost liberty, for example the morning rut: (LOL) I like to get up at 6h30 am, then look at my email and afterwards head out for excercise 45 minutes. Then I eat ground grains (wheat and oat) with half an apple and half a banana plus yoghurt, LOL (not very interesting is it...°

Well, it feels great to sometimes sleep in, then get up and just have coffee and bred and look out of the window, watch the cat on the balcony which is watching the birds in the street:) and let time be time...

I must say in Paris it is easy to go and change one's habits in a day, for example to step out of the metro a few stops earlier and take astreets you never saw before.

I agree with you, ruts are there to make us feel secure, which is great, and to be broken from time to time to make us connect to the unknown, or so:)

It is lovely to thing about them, and to think about how to break them, today for example:)

love
Andrea

Cestandrea said...

PS, "pick a fight with yourself" :)
I like the idea, and the whole quote. Will practice a bit from now on:), I guess, if we get sleepy and lay down comfortably but uncreatively in ruts, then we have to woken up a bit in order to do so, thanks for helping us to do so
love
Andrea

sukipoet said...

Andrea, yes. Installing ruts then breaking them. Even if in little ways. I love what you say about getting off the Metro a couple of stops earlier or later. That would change the whole trip to work or wherever. I think i'm like you in that I love ruts sometimes, and love to break out of them sometimes. But I forget to break out,,,,that's the rub. Thanks for your insights, andrea. You always have such great thoughts.

Cris, I looked up both loosestrife (no) and purple vetch. It is vetch I think, tho the on-line pictures were so small it was hard to see. Anyway, they said it grows in fields which would be right for here and the feathery leaves looked the same.

Annie said...

Suki, I loved this post! Just what I needed :-). Thank you.

Kim said...

Suki, not tongue in cheek at all...I just don't think I could manage to do these posts on specific days like you do with "Ponder this Sunday"...although I alway look so forward to what you have to write.

You know, I think school is even more rote today than when we were there. I honestly do not know how kids do it today. I very easily might be one of those 50% who drop out!

I really appreciate your insights to Tharp's book. I might put it on my list and see what happens.

I have done a ton of study with color because I find the subject mindblowingly fascinating. Because color is the reflection of light and your eye color also absorbs and reflects light, the way you perceive a particular hue can be very different from how someone else perceives it. I also think that is part of the reason each of us is pulled to particular color combinations. I can also say that my use of blue was far more intense and far more prolific when I lived in England than it is here on the east coast of the US. Even before going to England, we lived just a few miles from where we are currently living and my color use was quite different. And hard as I try, I cannot reproduce the colors of each of these times...not to mention the colors I used when we lived in Texas.

In addition, as you know, color is dependent on the hues which surround it and the natural light direction where it is viewed. Therefore, when you see a color in say, Santa Fe and then view it again in Bangor the color very well may appear very different.

Oh, I will stop now...I could go on and on!

Thanks Suki, for allowing me to ramble.

Honour said...

Suki - thanks for such a thoughtful response; yes, I also enjoy looking at the link between the biological / neurological and the emotional. I am going to mix some travelling (short nearby trips) with my month off, I think. I am like you too - in that I always SEE so many choices, but I like the idea that we can always amend our choice. That will be MY new motto :)

Lynn said...

Well, art quilts break all the rules of traditional quilts and that is exactly WHY they are for ME!!! I have been a bit of a rebel my entire life I think.
So I like this idea and welcome the challenge to change habits...

I hear you about your fear and that can over take us...today for instance, with DH feeling under the weather, and me fearing what if I had to continue this drive alone...or will I be able to do the driving needed to help him rest on this part of our journey? fear...left me sitting on a bench unmoving...so I got up and went for a walk, in a strange to me neighborhood, and at one point even picked up a stick to use as a weapon if the need arose...I am laughing thinking of my little twig with the one sharp spoke...and even then worried that I would not be able to harm another to protect myself...

Of course I got back safely, unharmed...silly me... but glad I took that walk. It felt marvelous to move my body after being cramped in the car so many hours the day before. Glad I chanced it in unknown territory.

I enjoy all of your photos along the way too.

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sukipoet said...

Oh Annie, thanks for your comment.

Kim, Well I've only been doing PTS for a few weeks. We'll see how long i can come up with things to ponder.

What you say about color is fascinating. All the aspects. So, color is not a solid entity, but something that changes with view and locale and many things. You are so filled with wisdom. I must tell you, when on Cape Cod, my room was painted GREY. Dark grey on the bottom, light on the top. And it was lovely. I just had to chuckle about that.

I hate to think that school is more rote than in the past. That is frightening. I know that children are often overschedueled and have little time for free-flow play out of which so much creativity arises.As I think I said before, I was so happy to find a Graduate school that was more a university without walls situation. Also, we didnt have grades. We got written evaluations. Even our transcripts are made of all these written evals. I love it.

Honor, glad to hear you will have some fun trips during your month off. Well, you already have had one eh? Yes, good to keep in mind, one can always amend ones choice to make it more what one wants. That's one thing my family never "got." They were a "you made your bed now lie in it till you die," sort of people. Which goes totally contrary to the way life flows. Nothing stays the same, everything changes. And also, seems to deny the fact that one has choice and the power to create what one wants as opposed to living but such a grim motto.

Lynn, you are a rebel for sure. "She's a rebel and she never ever does what she should." Lynny rebel. Glad you got that walk in as a scary but refreshing break from driving. Love the image of you with the little stick. Glad you got home safely. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures of your trip. Be well. Suki

sukipoet said...

Kim I meant viewer not view

Honor I meant out not but

Kathiesbirds said...

This is an excellent post with stimulating thoughts and questions. You are so right. My art professor used to make us sit in a different seat each time we came to class. When I tried this in a differnt traditional classroom it unsettled the professor who was used to students finding a seat and returning to it! I will break my routine today and do something different. Perhaps I will create something wonderful. We shall see!