It’s because I don’t tend to throw anything out. I believe, in a way, there is always something of interest or value in whatever I encounter. I collect impressions and experiences – bits of music, pictures, smells, sounds, feelings – like others collect stamps. And I do so, first and foremost, because I can’t help it – it’s part of who I am and how my brain works – but also, because I know that the creative process is incredibly unpredictable. It’s mysterious and serendipitous. The creative process is way too complex to just make a snap judgment about the value of anything that I come across. It all could become important at some point. Every bit of experience is precious and worthwhile remembering.
Some people have the exact opposite relationship and approach to information and experience. It never ceases to amaze me how some of my friends can just look at something and be like “Is this relevant to what I’m doing?” and if not, they just push it aside and focus on the task at hand. Within the blink of an eye, they know what to keep and what to throw out of their mind. They don’t just constantly get distracted by some kind of interesting but subsidiary thought of marginal importance, whereas my mind does exactly that: it tends to wander off in all kinds of directions. You know how when you’re looking for a video on youtube and you click on one of the recommended videos in the sidebar, only to realize a while later that you kept digging yourself in further and further..? Yeah, well, that’s pretty much exactly what my brain does. And it prevents me from effectively completing what I have to do. As fun as a cluttered mind can be, there is a time that demands focus – a time where you have to be able to zero-in on what’s in front of you. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.
It’s like my mind is a beehive. Sometimes the buzzing of my idea bees becomes almost unbearable and incredibly annoying. But they are vital. I need them. All of those little idea bees. Yet, in order to get to the honey – the creative output – you need to calm that buzzing down. Like a beekeeper calms his bees with smoke, you need to try and do the same thing with your mind. Because that’s when the juicy honey starts to flow.
It’s this embracing of messiness and understanding of its value for the creative process that creative types need to cultivate, learn to appreciate and be comfortable with.
We live in a society and culture that makes mental chaos look bad. It fosters orderliness and efficiency because those are the traits of “educated successful people”, whatever that means. All I can say to this is that I have no problem admitting that my mind’s a mess, because I realized at some point what tremendous value this holds, if implemented correctly. And I wish more people would embrace their idiosyncrasies and unique ways of thinking.
We all need to be the beehive and the beekeeper at the same time. We need to be the vessel that holds the ideas and the person to take care of them all in one, because that’s how we can harvest our creative honey best.