Creativity And Chaos
October was quite a chaotic month for me and my family. My daughter’s wedding was in the works so we housed over 25 guests, set up and tore down an ambitious event in wine country, cooked, cleaned, toured the Hollywood sign and visited the walk of Fame. If my neighbors were attempting to keep track, they probably couldn’t make much sense of all of the rented vans and trucks. It appeared to be utter chaos. And it sure did feel like things were out of control, after all, it’s impossible to control much of anything when there are so many moving parts.
Truth be told, at the time, I couldn’t catch my breath.
One by one, though, our houseguests have now since flown back across the pond, and things are finally returning to their usual state—my washing machine is on hiatus and the recycle bin is empty after hordes of bottles and cans had filled it throughout all of the festivities. October is over! Routine is slipping in little by little, silently but not unnoticed.
Now that my heart rate is returning to normal, I am able to reflect on all of the mayhem—the many trips to LAX and Trader Jo’s, the random mismatched pillowcases and strewn coffee cups; the countless grins and smiling faces, British accents (my daughter married a Brit), the emotional hugs, sentimental toasts and flowing tears. I am beginning to see how all of the craziness came together to create an unforgettable ceremony; how all of this frenetic activity miraculously carved out an epic celebration. I couldn’t see past my own busy-ness in the midst of the planning and prepping and setting up and tearing down. But now that the champagne glasses have been boxed and put in storage, now that the beautiful photos are being shared, I am feeling the true significance of October because with November comes a different perspective.
During times of such busy-ness, I often feel like I’ve lost any sort of Creativity and that I am just a slave to the task at hand. Most of us go through these periods where we feel like we are in a circus, spinning plates in the air, and when we accept one too many plates our only focus becomes finding a way to keep those plates from crashing. It’s tricky to take our eyes off of the plates in order to see what’s going on around us. But when we do take a step back, after it’s all over, we are met with a surprise.
According to F. David Peat, who was a student of the late physicist Dr. David Bohm, the only difference between order and chaos, is point of view. Creativity ventures into the unknown and gathers what is there and marries it with the known—making sense of our happenings. The example he offers is an atom. From inside the atom, the perspective looks like there’s a bunch of electrons whirling around in chaos. But from just outside of that atom, one can see a pattern around it. Beyond that, an observer can see that atoms are part of something even larger—a molecule. And molecules are part of larger matter, and so on. Creativity is the ability to gain a lofty perspective and connect all we see from that vantage point.
Chaos has a bad rap. Remember in the comic book “Batman” how the joker and the penguin always aim for mass chaos? Even Maxwell Smart in “Get Smart” from the 70s fought the crime ring called “Kaos”. Somehow chaos is part of the darker side of humanity—which if we are honest, is actually counterproductive to understanding true Creativity. Only when we don’t see our connection to the whole is something rendered dark or unproductive.
I find it redemptive just knowing that if we can hold on and complete our overwhelming tasks, somehow accepting the chaos, that we can fulfill the mission of Creativity by making meaning out of it. We just need to gain perspective. I had no idea that my daughter’s wedding would be so grand until I looked past the small stuff. All of the chaos brought people together, joined two in matrimony and taught me that ultimately, Creativity is about designing our lives—fashioning togetherness. Anything that magnificent may require some scrambling.