Sunday, October 10, 2010

Three Facilitators of Creativity: Nature, Music, Sport by Patrick Frank

Many thanks once more to Patrick Frank for sharing his wonderful insight.

Three Facilitators of Creativity: Nature, Music, Sport
by Patrick Frank

"I Feel so near, to the howling of the wind, I feel so near to the crashing of the waves, I feel so near to the flowers in the field...I feel so near..."

The above quote is from a Celtic song lyric. It speaks to the first facilitator of creativity--for me, and perhaps for many others: intimate connection with nature. Cut off from nature completely, and my creativity starts to dry up.

Today, riding back from Hardee's in Lake City, SC on Route 52, I passed beautiful brown and dappled horses, standing quietly underneath a stand of trees. Yes, I admit, I took my eyes off the road. When I see these horses, I sense their peaceful spirit, and the peacefulness enters me. I would like to go out to the field and pet them, feed them apples, but we're talking private property. That's okay. It's enough for me to to observe them in the green pasture.

Lately, I have been taking our cat, Fiona, out in the back yard on a long rope, so that she can have the intimate experience I am referring to. I do this because a neighbor lady has threatened to call animal control on our cats, because they wander into their yard and sometimes do their business, and because she fears that they have some disease. I thought she mentioned shooting them twice, but can't be sure i heard it right.

Anyway, I take Fiona out back, and this gets both her and me out of the house. I feel a gentle, cool breeze blowing through our pine and oak trees--the whisper of the wind, and the sound leads me into a kind of revery It does not matterthat they scold her and me sometimes; that's their nature, after all.

When I come back into the house, and sit down at the screen, I know that these experiences open me up inside and make me want to share--through my own music and writing.

One time when I worked at a mental health center I did therapy with a woman confined to a nursing home. She had the desire to write haiku. I would wheel her out to the sidewalk, next to the green and flowers and dragon flies and butterflies and birds. She loved it and wrote some great haiku. Sorry to say after I became homeless for a period of time, I lost a copy of her work. But HER spirit lives inside me.

Yes, nature is one of the facilitators. And I want to say that nature exists in the city, not only in rural South Carolina. I think of Tupac's book of poetry, "The Rose That Grew from Concrete." I expressed the same concept while living in Springfield, MA, and playing basketball on the "bad' side of town," across from Burger King, on State St.. I was aware of the flowers and grass, seemingly growing up through the concrete. But look up and you will also see the gang signs scrawled on a wooden fence nearby. It is a mixed bag in the city, desolation and beauty. If you open your eyes you can find the latter.

By the way, I only wish Tupac had lived. He would have grown into one of our great artists with broader influence in our culture. He would have grown, as Malcolm X grew, gaining a broader perspetive on the issue of racism in America and around the world.

I always play basketball outside, because of the proximity to nature. That's another facilitator of creativity for me, sport, in particular, basketball. Focusing on the basket, in the rhythm, letting my worry dissipate while I strive to make the shot. Yes, the worry fades in and out, as it does in formal meditation, but that's okay. When it fades in, I process it, in a different kind of way, gaining a kind of perspective. Then it's on to the next shot, and all around me, I am aware of grass and trees and birds and butterflies and dragnflies, and sometimes the cool breeze. And let me not forget sunlight. I admit that I much prefer to play when the sun is shining, or in twilight, when light is interspersed with shadow, and the purple and sometimes vivid red and yellow appear, and one senses the sliow transition to the realm of night, which has its own beauty, and if you're lucky, the stars and moon.

I have walked beside the ocean. I grew up in a beach town, and later in my life fell in love with Naragansett, RI and East Matunuck Beach, with its long jetty. I used to dive for crabs along the rocks, with my net, and sometimes bring them up. I'd like to go back and try that again someday.

There are more experiences I could tell you about, but I'll stop here. I know that other writers and artists have had their own unique encounters with nature, and I hope you will write about them, or paint them or draw them, or make a song out of them, or dance and share how nature has enhanced your creativity and underlying spirit.


So I have identified two facilitators of creativity, at least for me:

nature and sport. Above is a third facilitator, music and lyrics, implied because because I was also inspired after listening to Scottish performer and songwriter Dougie Maclean's great song, "Feel So Near"

...listening over and over while driving up and down route 52, and singing to the lyrics, especially the chorus...

feel so near to the howling of the wind

feel so near to the crashing of the waves

feel so near to the flowers in the field

feel so near...

For my personal enjoyment, and to help me move more deeply into the experience of singing, and creating a song, I listen over and over to the songs that happen to touch me at a particular period of my life. The ones I carry around in my car right now are Dougie's, along with...

*Born to be Wild: by Steppenwolf

*Hallelujah (in Shrek 1), perormed by Rufus Wainwright/John Cale and written/composed by Leonard Cohen

*Tuesday's gone, performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd and written/composed by RonnieVan Zant and Allen Collins

*Lost, written/composed and performed by Michael Buble

*I'm Yours written/composed and performed by Jason Mraz...

along with several others that I won't mention here.

There is a saying that I can't get out of my head: "Without music, life is a journey through a desert." (Pat Conroy)

Great music inspires me through its metaphoric aspect, in that it leaves room for the working of the listener's imagination, and allows for individual interpretation and application to one's life. (The metaphoric aspect of music is mentioned in Daniel J. Levitin's interesting book, "The World in Six Songs") As a poet, I am inspired because great lyrics also constitute poetry, and reading/listening to great poetry opens the door to my own poetic way of giving expression to the flow of life; I also am inspired because the music itself draws out deep feelings, and somehow permits the imagination to take flight.

So music is a third facilitator of creativity for me, and I suspect for many others with a creative bent (and suddenly I realize that I have forgotten to include creative scientists in this discussion).

So three of the facilitators of creativity for me are:



*and music

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