Expanding Our Creative Being

Recently, I picked up Rick Rubin’s new book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being.

Rubin is a nine-time Grammy award-winning music producer. Rather than sharing stories of studio sessions with famous musicians, the book focuses on how to build our “creative being.” Many of the points Rubin makes strike me as valid for enriching our lives as well!

The book opens with a quote from American painter Robert Henri:

“The object isn’t to make art,

it’s to be in that wonderful state

which makes art inevitable.”

Rubin observes: 

“Through the ordinary state of being, we’re already creators in the most profound way, creating our experience of reality and composing the world we perceive.”

We rarely think of life that way. Instead, we’re distracted by everything that happens, believing life is delivered by circumstance. Wisdom teachers disagree:

“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”

-Pema Chodron

How do we create the sky?

Rubin claims the creative act is as much about awareness as craft. The best artists have sensitive antennae that tune into the resonating energy of their environment. This is why art often reflects the times. We can evolve our creative being if we make space for awareness to expand in our preoccupied lives.

To do this, Rubin suggests carving out time each day to witness new things. Music fans might listen to highly regarded works in an unfamiliar genre. Art lovers might study new artists or unfamiliar artistic movements. Even a mindful walk in nature exposes one to new creativity. Such efforts may not initially feel rewarding. Some may even be off-putting. Still, over a year, Rubin claims they expand our creative being by moving us outside our habitual ruts.  

To me this makes sense. When the company I worked for was acquired by another firm, I was moved into an area I had little knowledge of or interest in. It was uncomfortable. Strangely, the more I learned about the area, the more interesting it became. Awareness expanded, and it changed me. I was reluctant to leave when I was ultimately transferred into a new job.

Awareness shapes our being more than we ever imagine! But how do we make space for awareness in our busy lives?

Apple reports that I spend three hours a day on screen time. That’s nearly twenty percent of my waking hours. Writing consumes a portion of that, but I still consume a lot of time reading emails, keeping up with world events, and occasionally checking Facebook. 

I’ve decided that the best way for me to create space for new awareness is to cut my screen time. I’m chosing classic literature as an area of focus. An extra hour each day will provide time to read a book or two a month. This week I checked out John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath from the library. It’s embarrassing to admit, but until recently I hadn’t used my library card in thirty years. 

Mindfulness practice taught me the importance of awareness. Rubin extends that principle to our creative being

I’ll let you know how his suggestion works out. 


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