A meaningful life is created by you - its creator.
You create meaning in chunks:
- Chunks of knowing. Absorbed from learning.
- Chunks of ideas. Created from experiences.
- Chunks of being. Though often missed in the rush of hurdling the here and now.
"This rush, energy and pursuit of living can leave us hurtling through our best years. Sometimes finding too late, the original self was found in those rushed moments."
I look back on the past ten years and see many opportunities missed. Those moments where I touched the edges of what was possible, rather than giving them a good rub. Sticking with the notion. Challenging the status quo.
We’re all rough-cut gems at birth. Time and pressure revealing the diamond within — if sought. Problem is, settling for the carbon copy our culture has pre-determined for us, is often the default position.
Being an original, a creative being, asks one thing of us: to use intuition and experience as guides. It’s in how we respond to the ordinary that creative ideas emerge. They begin as embryonic senses, asking us to dance with them, if even for an uncomfortable moment, and to challenge what we perceive as truth.
"One prerequisite for originality is clearly that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it. Rather, he must be able to learn something new, even if this means that the ideas and notions that are comfortable or dear to him may be overturned." — Bohm
Six Ways To Create More Meaning:
1: Experience A State Of “Uninterrupted Marvel” As Elizabeth Gilbert Describes.
“It all goes away. Eventually, everything goes away.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Walking is a marvel. Especially to one-year-olds. Or those unable to.
Walking is an exquisite adventure into the world of movement-at-will. It’s as intriguing as time travel or how a basic fax machine works — which is beyond my comprehension.
It’s a linked sensory experience transmitted from thought to muscle, activating movement. And it happens in a micrometer of a second.
It’s at this junction, between impulse and action that ‘marvel’ exists. It’s here the invisible world of ideas operates.
Birds avoid the seemingly invisible spider’s web, yet insects fly in, captured. The miracle is in the web. The orb-weaver spider uses UV-reflecting silk — invisible to insects, visible to birds who otherwise would fly through it, destroying hours of work.
Some glass manufacturers now use this clever idea in windows to avoid the growing problem of birds crashing into them.
Original ideas stem from the notion that nothing is ordinary— unless you believe it so. If ‘normal’ dictates how you see — then novelty, intrigue and curiosity pay a steep price.
‘Marvelling the moment’ means staying alert to new ideas, fresh insights and momentous discoveries. It’s available to all of us. All it takes is a child-like curiosity.
Action Step: Today, notice one thing that you do and be curious about it. It could be the way you make your coffee, the routine you’ve created around showering, the way you drive, your mannerisms when you greet someone. Break down the sequence and consider the impact of each tiny action.
2. Live More Creatively: Think A-A-A.
A creative state of mind is:
- Attentive to detail.
- Alert to connections.
- Aware of gaps in thinking.
Einstein was not the most intelligent physicist to have lived. It was his broad ranging interests coupled with his attention to detail, alertness to connections and awareness of gaps in thinking that led him to solving problems in original ways. This was his genius.
Action Step: Take up a new interest or hobby. Seek clarity in the process. Apply it in your work.
3. Avoid The Sidelines.
“In the absence of growth, decay usurps the order.” — Maria Popova
Being creative means relinquishing the safety of the crowd. The sideline view of comparison.
It’s in the automatic response. The mechanical reaction. The crowd-pleasing me-too applause of inclusion that mediocrity lives.
Finding your voice to describe the over-looked is the calling card of originality. Expressing thoughts, ideas, notions —the ‘unsaid’ and ‘unnoticed’ means taking a stance, because in expressing curiosity around the overlooked and everyday opens a door to the next insight.
It’s easier to keep quiet, fearing judgement. Yet judgement only comes from those with few ideas. The ones preferring the safe route.
If you’re judged as ‘wrong’, be glad. Because the original thinker is rubbing the edge of a diamond, one the judger misses in hope of fitting-in.
Creativity and originality don’t promise answers just because you looked. The act of looking often takes you to the next question — which wouldn’t have arisen if you hadn’t opened the first door.
And in this place, the power of ‘I don’t know’ is what opens vulnerability. The child-like stance that lets in new insights, welcomes confusion — because creativity is a chaos-seeking junkie that revels in ‘messy’.
It’s in seeking chaos, that the chaff slips through and a few gems ready for the rub emerge.
Gems that wouldn’t have been seen if chaos wasn’t invited in.
Bushfires are devastating. But necessary. Some seeds need extreme heat to burst into life.
So do ideas. The heat of the moment. The chaos of the storm. The energy needed for transformation.
Action Step: Collect random ideas. Note them in your journal. Describe them in a simple drawing. Make connections.
4. Minds Seeking Approval Lead To Static Noise.
The word “noise” actually comes from a Latin word for nausea; in audio engineering, the term describes any unwanted information that interferes with the desired signal, like static on the radio. — TheAtlantic.com
Acceptance of what is, means denying what could be. A nauseous state of mind.
The original mind leans into controversy knowing that an idea will not be accepted by all.
It will challenge the status quo and bring a sense of non-conformity that rattles anyone aiming to maintain a static equilibrium.
Static noise leads to dismissing the low-lying annoying buzz.
Like new ideas. Like static noise, ignored until one day they stop, leaving a vacant mind. Ideas have an energy all their own. A time of their own. They will not seek a static mind.
Action Step: At the end of each day review it. Write in your journal at least 3 ideas that emerged. They don’t have to be ‘Einstein-like’. Seeking them, will bring more into view.
5. Echo Your Culture: But Create Your Own Sound.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” — Annie Dillard
Getting caught in a cycle of approval from family, friends, colleagues and those you admire can be self-defeating and break your drive for originality.
Leonard Cohen says this:
It’s also very difficult to untangle influences because you represent the sum of everything you’ve seen or heard or experienced.
You are a product of your roots. A soft echo of your culture, your heritage, your education.
Yet these things are not you. In the same way that a postcard is an echo of a place, these are only echos of the print you leave (if you choose to).
A finger print identifies you as the original you. The one of a kind being that you are. How you use that print is an ‘unknown’. What you do with your ‘echo’ is up to you.
And in this space, your enemy is ‘time’. Because all you have is now. Today. Tomorrow is not real. Yesterday only today’s memory.
Being present for today, means choosing to speak. To explore. To express. To imagine. To dream. To let the vulnerability of an idea explore itself without shutting it down prematurely.
Whether through a paintbrush called to describe a sense of place, a pencil driven to capture an idea, a song noted for its unsaid or a movement that leans into a gesture that says it all — the vulnerability of a moment is an invitation for the taking.
Action Step: In your journal reflect on your identity — that mix of place, time and culture. Ask yourself how this influences what you notice, what you ignore. Reflect how this could be limiting another perspective.
6. Let Your Experiences Float Like Fragments of Dust: Lightly, So They Come To Rest On Surfaces You’ll See
As a bath offers immersion, so do experiences. Full body ones that feel, sense and breathe their fullness, offering wealth for those seeking answers.
Experiences offer themselves. Don’t judge them. Resist pinning down what this ‘experience’ means. Avoid naming it. Aim not to anchor it like a butterfly pinned to a science project, leaving nothing but an image of its drifting, fluttering possibility.
Experiences offer themselves, luring you to engage. Not with mind. Not yet, that comes later.
Rather they invite you into the dance, their ballet of whimsy.
This moment that will never be offered again. No matter if you re-visit the place or the people. It is in accepting the dance that you’ll be invited to another.
This is how to hold momentarily the gossamer of an idea. One that will lead you to immersion. To new ways of being. If you let it.
Action Step: Sensory experiences are the key to creative experiences. For today, notice any changes to your skin as air brushes by. Notice the feel of your clothes against your skin. Notice their smell. Build this practice daily. Embodying your experiences opens the door to more intuitive and creative ideas.