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The Column icon The Column: Issue 68

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

The Art Of Doing Nothing
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

To give our creativity a chance of performing at its best we must devote time to stillness and silence. Resist the temptation of dismissing this as doing nothing of value. We need a portion of our waking time to reflect upon and transform our experiences so we may express them effectively through the filter and influence of our creativity.

The Fast Lane

The two photos below show an often ignored aspect of Singapore, a city that thrives on being a hub of international activity. The left image appears calm to the eye, and yet at the very moment the shutter snapped, heavy traffic rushed above the smooth sun-soaked curves of the freeway that bridges the airport to downtown. The image to the right is of a contemplative water feature found in a bustling shopping complex - a place of stillness amongst the throng.
click an image to enlarge...

Singapore is a place of new buildings and fast paced physical change with its focus firmly set on trade. Like all major cities of the world, people generally rush from one place to another as workers or consumers. Activities that do not explicitly profit a product or service are often perceived of as little or no economic benefit.

We are each like cities, our multi-facetted inner-world of thoughts and feelings traveling at high speed. Stop a moment, the view is unexpected...

What We Value

It may be that our skills as creatives are of use in a market, and those who pay for our time confirm our accepted place within it - it's one thing to say you like something and another to put your hand in your pocket. Economic gain and social acceptance seem compensation enough for most. Money allows us to pay for food, shelter, goods and services at an agreed rate, however those things that are of great value to the creative are not always subject to economic exchange.

Day and Night

Our dreams are linked to our instinctive emotional responses and as such we should place a high value upon them. My creative output significantly depreciates when I fail to give myself the time and space to dream - both at night, and during the day.

We sleep so our mind has time to catalog, secretly replay, and accept the experiences of our daily life. We dream to live more at ease with ourselves. Our dreams are unfettered by reason and largely hidden from conscious view, and when on occasion our dreams surface, we are in turn inspired, confused, or disturbed. We perform better and are generally more content and able to cope when we make time to dream sufficiently. The period we need to dream differs for each of us, depending on the intensity of our waking life.

When we fill every moment of our day with messages, text, email, and mobile phone calls, we lessen the opportunity to daydream. In daydreams our awareness of our immediate physical surroundings decreases and is replaced by a heightened awareness of our thoughts, feelings and mental images. We allow our focus to drift from one thought to another, without defining logical connections. We allow the instinctive unlearned mental process to take over. This natural process of self exploration is invaluable in uncovering the creative direction we should take. The compass of dream leads to observations and conclusions that are often unexpected and rarely gained through logical argument.

Forced Shutdown

Some force a shutdown of their mind using artificial means. Others, more self disciplined and enlightened, use meditation to quieten the confused voices of unrest that can fill a mind that takes no rest. Whatever method you use, now and then, a complete reboot will be necessary. This may be voluntary or compulsory, the choice is yours.

Time is not money. Take ownership of it. Spend some time quietly thinking in a focused manner, and the level of your creative productivity will take care of itself.


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Authors background

Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author. Mike is also the Creative Director of 2BrightSparks, a software company.

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