There’s a beautiful little bookshop in Madrid called Panta Rhei. It’s run by a lovely lady called Ingrid and I recommend a visit next time you’re that way.
I have a scant knowledge of Spanish, but even I can spot some imported words when I see them,as you may have done. The phrase panta rhei means ‘everything flows’ in ancient Greek. I’ve also seen it translated as ‘everything changes’ and it was coined by philospher Heraclitus, who lived in Ephesus in the 6th century BC. Now, I know once I stray into the area of Greek philosophy, I’m going to get a headache, especially with Heraclitus, who seems to contradict himself all over the place. Underpinning his philosophy, though, is this idea of nothing being as constant as change. That’s quite unsettling, isn’t it?
Constancy is comforting, even when what is constant isn’t very pleasant. If you hate your job, it’s easy to convince yourself to stick it out anyway, on the basis of ‘better the devil you know’. Some people even argue themselves into staying in unhappy relationships for the same reason.
What has all this to do with creativity? Maybe nothing, if you and I interpret Heraclitus differently. Surely, though, if change is happening anyway, we should all be part of that change,taking control, innovating and improving. Otherwise, won’t we be left standing whilst change pushed forward by others swirls around, and past, us? Once again, that leads us to our old friends, fear and self-doubt.
If these two beasts are ever-present, we are going to have to make our changes in spite of them. We are going to have to start something, be it a novel, poem, painting or song, in spite of our doubts. If you think I say this, because I have the magic formula to overcome all doubt, I’m afraid I have to disappoint you. I’ve been banging on for ages about how I’m going to do a sewing course. Have I done one yet? No, I haven’t. Why? Because it’s maybe a bit scary. Even going to the craft fair was scary (see previous post) and all I did was buy things! Those things are still in a carrier bag in a corner, by the way. I can see them looking at me, mocking.
TIME FOR AN EXERCISE:
I’ve talked before about making a ‘To Do’ list of things you want to achieve, but now it’s time to make another list, a sort of ‘Why I can’t’ list. What are the reasons that hold you back? Here are some of mine, and if you think some look ridiculous, well, they do. That’s the point. When you actually look at your fears and self-doubts in the cold light of day, it’s easier to apply a bit of logic as to why and how you can overcome them. I truly believe that they won’t ever fully go away, but we can learn to live with them. We can even, if we want, shout at them and tell them to politely take a hike because we’re busy creating.
- I might be deluded about my own ability.
- Everyone will laugh at me. (Rich coming from someone who once harboured comedic ambitions!)
- I won’t have time until the weekend.
- I’m having a busy weekend.
- I bet someone’s already thought of this.
- I bet someone’s already done this better than I can.
Well, that’s enough about me.
Now, you have a go. Make the list as long or as short as you want, just make it honest. Read it, then put it away. Next time you feel doubt or fear about your creativity, look at the list again. Recognise what’s in it and carry on creating.
Don’t forget, if you put something you’ve created out there, somebody won’t like it. It’s not personal, it’s just statistics. We can’t all like everything. I find Mozart a bore. (Don’t write in, I know he’s a genius.)
And get yourself to Madrid some time, soak up the culture and go and see Ingrid in her shop.