Creation in an Overwhelmed State

Austin Kleon poignantly says in his book Steal Like An Artist, “Creativity is subtraction.” I’ve previously talked about just how overwhelming stimulus is, particularly from news and social media outlets. And I’m always on-route to simplifying further. We’re cluttered – all of us. Not necessarily individually, but on a societal level. There are many versions of the same product, guaranteeing the same result. There are heavily clotted roads, congested parking structures, and complex driving courtesy dynamics. On top of that, we can’t seem to escape noise – from restaurants playing music so loud it sounds like a night club, to speakers in a parking garage, to construction.

I think many of us are sad. I see it in the faces around me when driving, walking, talking, and otherwise being out in the world. Earnestly, I believe that everyone is creative. Much of the sadness comes from lack of creative outlet. And on a base level, the amount of stimulus that we are subjected to every day does nothing to encourage us to create. We are creators. We believe in myths and traditions of creation. We have fundamentally created gods in the human image. Yet, we reserve creation to designated “professionals”, whom we deem more creative than the majority. On top of that, the professional creatives many times create within parameters of cultural structure and ethos of imagined targeted audiences.

We are sad because we cannot fathom creating. There is so much already out there. Much of it irrelevant to us, much of it is unnatural and inauthentic. All of us have innate hubs of creation carnally and sacredly intertwined into our carbon frames. Many may never realize their immense powers of creation – for art, for business, for positivity – because they tie themselves unquestionably to their imagined selves. An imagined self can see him or herself as a monetary entity, quantifiable, determined by a cost-value. This is not a true self. Humans think things. Humans make things. Humans create things. They are vastly more intricate than they are allowed to be by standards of normalcy and by societal value.

Consider the concept of being emotionally intelligent. The idea is that someone who is emotionally intelligent will be able to control his or her emotions. He or she will choose appropriate emotions for a given scenario. Consider though that those appropriate emotions are determined by cultural cues, overt and covert individualized interpretations, and context. All of these make emotional responses far more complex than we say they are. Our emotional responses are fabricated, at least in part. They are heavily reliant on consensus of appropriateness.

The combination of emotional intelligence and overstimulation perfectly renders a dramatically uncreative, monetized, and passive individual. What we call emotional intelligence is actually what’s forging internal dissonance between our true, legitimate feelings, and our outward appearance (eg. facial expressions). Now combine this sense of inauthentic self with the drive of stimulus in your surroundings. Overstimulation nests deep, weaving in thoughts that all that’s create-able is created, and all that’s worthy of creation is either already created, or will be created by a professional creative person.

The truth of creation is separated from stimulus and emotional intelligence. In reality, everyone is creative. We live in an overwhelming time, and we’re discouraged from authenticity. How do we reconcile the true nature of the human spirit – creation – with the culture we currently participate in?