Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Creatively Idle

Bob McGuiness, commenting on his perception of the film Lost in Translation, has this to say:

"And the creative process moves in mysterious ways. Sometimes getting nothing done is the most productive thing you can do. Sometimes you do your most important work when you’re not working at all. Sometimes the most pointless, stupid, ridiculous experiences are the ones that teach you the most and lead to your biggest discoveries."

This has nothing to do with translation, or at least not explicitly so. But it reminded me of a few things:

(1) That I write my best articles and papers in my head first, over weeks of time, and that to the outsiders I look like I am spaced-out, or snoozing, or whatever. But I can't put pen to paper without "not doing anything at all".

(2) It reminds me of a "Mission Statement" I wrote last year, during one of the "rah, rah" motivational sessions. It was a revolt, because I don't have to be perpetually motivated to be normal:

I shall lie idle in the vale
Among the grass flowers inhale
I shall lie there at the mountain foot
Where others, geared to the boot
Climb Up.

I shall lie idly as they scrap
and cut their hands and blood the knees
Achieving crap
While I breath freely air beneath
Watch them exhausted reach the top
See nothing there inspiring hope
And clamber back..
The same long track..

A chuckle I will surely make
At all attempts, both mad and fake
Of those returnees from the high
Who now will raise their voices loud
And teach their lessons to the crowd
To heal, to light the lights, to be
Oh, so the blind like me can see!

Perchance, as I lie in the vale
Some lucky one might come across
And stumble on my body prone
And ask me what I'm doing there
Why amn't I going somewhere?
If I feel so inclined, I may
Spit out a juicy stalk away
And to the poor dork thus say:

I have achieved my easier path
No scraped knees or bloodied hands
Nirvana comes from being one
With what we came from and where we'll end
Here, this handful of moist earth
Is me tomorrow, and you and them
So lie beside me and inhale
The sweetest fragrances of the vale.

(3) It reminded me to strongly recommend any of you who are still cutting their knees and hands up on the mountain top to read Tom Hodgkinson's magnificent "How To Idle". While I will never reach Tom's capacity at doing nothing, the book had a healing effect on my previous workaholism, by showing me that one needs to maintain a certain level of sane humanity if one wants to be productively creative.

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