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Does Our Creativity Really Have To Be Special?

Last spring, my husband Dan and I went to London to do an exhibit at The Tate Museum. We had another show at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux in France the day before, but we were most excited about The Tate. Showing his work in the Turbine Hall had been one of Dan’s lifelong dreams.

 

After an early morning flight from Bordeaux to London and lunch with our assistant from Portugal, we sweated our way to the Tate’s Turbine Hall.

 

While setting up the fans that were an integral part of the exhibit, we quickly realized that the ginormous hall had a great draft that would make the two sheets of fabric that continuously fly in and out of a vortex of air created in the center of the room fly away.

 

We had no idea what to do. Hundreds of people were arriving in 30 minutes and we were afraid we would have to shut down the whole show.

 

I started moving fans around in a panic, which caused even more chaos because I was placing them haphazardly.

 

Dan was about ready to give up.

 

But, at that point, his stellar assistant, Roger, who had a bit of emotional distance that gave him perspective, stepped up and fixed the problem enough so that we could go on.

 

Exhausted and tired from so much stress and anxiety, Dan and I snuck out of the museum, left Roger who gratefully offered to cover, and went to have dinner at the Shakespeare’s Globe restaurant around the corner.

 

While we were having a glass of wine and eating zucchini fries, we couldn’t help but think about the way we’d thought the show at the 17th century opera house in Bordeaux couldn’t compare to the show at the Tate. But Bordeaux was so much better. 

 

I thought to myself, that was a real lesson.

 

Sometimes, our dreams don’t turn out the way we hope. And sometimes, something else better comes along. It makes you appreciate the power of letting go… to remain open to surprises, to stay curious, and willing to explore the uncharted. That’s the power of creativity and why it turns me on so much. 

 

We were tired that night at the restaurant. It was two days of work in two different countries, with jet lag and many hours working around the clock. And, as we grabbed a romantic moment to ourselves, I was grateful for both experiences—including the highs and the lows.

 

My video, How To Not Be Hard On Yourself, is all about when we try to make something special whether it’s a New Year’s Eve on the town, a romantic Valentine’s dinner, or that birthday cake you’re baking.

 

We want the big imagined moment to be beautiful. We want it to be lovely. We want it to be outstanding.

 

Sometimes, it is. Sometimes it all works out the way we planned and foresaw. And, sometimes, it doesn’t. And we’re grown up enough to know that that’s how life works out—even if we feel disappointed.

 

When we get caught up in making our creation into the most significant, special, important thing, we’re controlling it. Control takes us out of spontaneity and creative freedom. The tension itself can ruin the experience or add unnecessary stress. And it certainly takes the magic out of it.

 

That night at the Globe restaurant Dan and I started talking about the next show coming up on the calendar. We were open and ready for our next adventure.

 

May we embrace all of the good and the bad and trust creativity knows what’s best for us!

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Lynn Newman