Greenhouse for Creative Growth
So I grew up in Northern California, and every summer I would go to a camp that was located in the redwood trees. And the redwood forest in California is one of the most amazing things in the world. And since that time as a kid I've learned a little bit about those trees, and one of the things that I first learned was that they only grow in a unique place, a narrow strip along the California coast, and the reason is because they need a specific habitat in order to thrive, and I think the same thing is true with all of us creatively as well. There's certain elements that we need to have in place so that we can be our best creative self. And let's go to the trees for a second. There's some kind of cool and interesting facts about them. They're the tallest trees in the world, right. They need to be by a water source, but they also need to be by fog. In the summertime, they drink or absorb almost half of their water from that California coastal fog. They also grow in groups. A tree doesn't...
tend to grow by itself but with other trees around. Its roots aren't deep, but they go very wide, and they interconnect. Now the interconnection is part of their strength. That's what keeps them so they can stand so immensely tall, over three hundred feet tall. Another thing they do with their root system, the interconnected roots, is there'll be a tree down by a creek, another one up on a ridge. The one on the ridge will send nutrients from the sun to the trees below. The trees below will send up water to those trees, up to a mile away, so again, it's that interconnectedness and all of those other elements of the habitat that help those trees to thrive. Now how does that really relate to us as creative individuals? I think what we need to do is ask ourself, well, are we more like a redwood tree or something else? Do we need that network? Are we social, or do we thrive, perhaps, more like Charles Dickens? He could only write in the quiet of his study. He had one door, and he installed another so it would be absolutely quiet. And answering those questions about our own needs for environment are incredibly critical. Perhaps you need the buzz of a coffee shop in order to be able to do your thing, or maybe you need the quiet and the simplicity of a room that's clutter-free. You know, clutter can be good; it also can be bad. Sometimes clutter has, you know, it's these little things that spark and trigger our imagination. Other times it just gets in the way. I like how John Lennon put it. He said creativity is a gift, but it only comes through if the air isn't cluttered. Sometimes we just need to have fresh air, right, and clear things out. So here's the exercise that I want you to do. Take a few minutes, look at your own environment, your space, whatever it is. Maybe you work in paint in a garage, or maybe you have an expansive studio, or maybe you're just in a cubicle. How can you make that more of a greenhouse so that creatively you can thrive? Come up with three specific things that you can do. Maybe your cubicle's just boring and dull, but you love music. Well, hang up a few posters from a couple of shows that you've been to. Or maybe your workspace is just bustling with so much stuff, and you just need to get rid of it all, kind of clean slate and start over again. Three things that you can do in order to make that space more conducive to your own growth, because I guarantee you, there's a unique habitat for you, just like those redwood trees. If you really want to grow tall, it's a narrow strip, and you gotta figure it out. All right, well, how else can we do this? How can we dig deeper? One book recommendation for you: it's called Flow. The author's name is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In this landmark book, he gets in this idea of this flow state that creatives enter into, and he talks about this, not just creatives, but all sorts of folks, and it's one of these books that's often quoted and referred to, but you gotta go to the source. If you want to get more creative, spend time digging deep into that book. Yet more than anything, in your own space today, ask yourself, "Hey, how can I make a couple changes "so that this space is a bit more conducive "to my own growth so it can be more of a greenhouse "for who I really want to become?"