Creativity thrives when we allow ourselves to become absorbed in what fascinates us. Children are really good at this. Children can lose themselves in whatever beguiles them. They have an uninhibited appetite for anything that catches their interest. Out of this appetite comes growth, learning and inventiveness. Adults have the same capacity for absorption, the same voracious appetite – until the voice of reason sobers them up. Adam Phillips, former principal child psychotherapist at Charring Cross Hospital in London and prolific writer of books, was recently interviewed by the Paris Review . In the interview, Phillips observes that children in healthy environments have an incredible ability to focus on what interests them because:
- “There’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed.” They are freed from the enmeshed needs and demands of relationships and responsibilities.
- They have a voracious appetite for what interests them
- They have no inner critic telling them their appetite for what interests them is impractical, time wasting, irrelevant or any of the other things we tell ourselves. “You can only recover your appetite…”Phillips says, “if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself.” Creativity flourishes when we loosen our grip on the limitations we put on our creative imagination and the dreams it produces, when we forget ourselves.
When we learn to live in the liminal space of expanded awareness, we learn to forget ourselves. We learn to find space in the middle of the complexities of adult life where creativity can flourish.
How do you find that empty space in the midst of your daily life?