If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
Last week, my friend, Elissa Perry, a poet and a leadership consultant, asked me how my recent foray into “creative processes” was affecting how I thought about my work. She was referring specifically to my photography dabblings, but I was confused at first. I didn’t understand her distinction between “creative processes” and “my work,” because I always thought those two things were one and the same.
Both my sisters are “artists” in the more traditional sense. My older sister is a violinist married to a composer. My younger sister got her MFA in creative writing, although she is now a practicing lawyer. While their mediums of choice are different from mine, I don’t see my work as being substantially different from theirs.
I was in the business of designing experiences that facilitated high-performance collaboration. I used the same creative muscles that my sisters did to do their work, and I got to express myself in the process. My work stimulated me intellectually from solving a problem and emotionally from being creative. Like all art, the process of creation was sometimes a frustrating grind, but it was overall a wonderful, joyful experience. I’m feeling it right now as I design the next iteration of Changemaker Bootcamp.
As for Elissa’s original question, here are some recent musings about how my photography has affected my other creative processes:
And this is a great excuse to share some of Elissa’s artistry. At last week’s wonderful Creating Space X conference, the notions of “bridging” came up several times, so Elissa treated us to a poem that she wrote that was inspired by the new Bay Bridge. It’s part of a collection entitled, “Everything Indicates.”
“Keeping Quiet,” a poem by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell. Via my friend, Rafael Lopez.
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.
The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.
What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.
If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.
Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.