3 weeks ago · Bob Weathers · 0 comments
by Robert Graves
The butterfly, a cabbage-white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight,
Yet has – who knows as well as I? –
A just sense of how not to fly:
He lurches here and here by guess
And God and hope and hopelessness.
Even the aerobatic swift
Has not his flying-crooked gift.
To live a creative life — say, with renewed vigor in the New Year — demands that one understand what social psychology calls “idiosyncrasy credit.” For me, for you, to deviate from expectation, itself the very cornerstone of creative process, requires a fine balance of risking to be different (“idiosyncratic”), but not so different that others only reject what we create. To accomplish this latter aim, of our work, our lives, being accepted, we need to have earned “credit” first.
If our driving force is to be authentic self-expression, the goal of living creatively, let us also not forget to seek legitimacy, where there is equal emphasis given to “translating” to our intended audience what we have done as there is to attempting to “transform” the formerly predictable into something new and unexpected. “Flying” creatively includes our always keeping in mind “how not to fly.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, reigning king of creativity research, maintains that creativity requires being ever open to feedback from others, particularly those who have qualified themselves (by establishing their own idiosyncrasy credit) to provide valid and meaningful perspective on what we may be otherwise too close to for adequate self-criticism.
Imagine this: you may have a wonderful contribution to offer the world, something it dearly needs, something you are best poised to give, but if no one understands the gift, it lies sadly mute and unheard — unreceived, not because it fails in depth (its potential for constructively creative change), but rather because it fails in breadth (owing to limitations in its communicating effectively).
Let me, like the poet’s butterfly, “fly crooked,” but just the right amount of crooked, where even those who habitually fly straight might this time instead perk up and notice.