Greg is pleased with the campfire he just created. As he sits, staring into the embers, he daydreams that the fire itself was somehow his invention. The restfulness is palpable.
Then, like an ambulance siren breaking in around the corner, Greg’s thoughts careen back toward work deadlines. He reaches for his phone, and walks away from the fire.
In the midst of his downloading an extensive and “important” email, cell-phone service drops out. Dropping an eft-bomb simultaneously with the cellular drop, Greg walks around like a rabid animal trying to find satellite reconnection.
The whole act is infuriatingly futile. At no point in the campsite can he seem to reconnect. It’s almost like the universe is enforcing some boundary line of quieting.
Greg pours some bourbon into a blue camping mug as consolation, and sulks by the fire for a moment. With a conciliatory sigh, he reaches for the tent pegs to put together his tent.
Stretching the flat tent out over the ground, Greg imagines the boundary lines of the tent as if seeing the earth from space. He imagines how the tent almost looks like the outline of Australia.
As he pushes each tent peg into the ground with his bare hands, Greg quickly transcends the cell phone debacle. Touching the bare earth does something to him. He makes a promise to himself.
For the rest of my time at this campground, I won’t let my mind wander at all around work deadlines. This space is mine.
Greg’s cell phone service circus is a familiar one. For all of us, creatives especially, finding space to literally “un-plug” is often crucial to make space for creative ideation.
The decision to say “no” to good things for a time is an act of the will, to protect for something better. Getting outside of our normal environment is an excellent way to create those boundary lines, but sometimes that isn’t enough.
The creative process demands that we learn how to disengage from our daily habits that might interfere with making our best work.
Here at Radar, we have a few different corporate practices that help us spread out the tent pegs to create space for great ideas. One of those practices is to take walking meetings, whenever possible. In our next post, we’ll talk about what current research has to say about the kinetic connection between creativity and movement.
The Camping Creative is the third of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity. Read the first post here.
Have you put into practice any sort of disciplines that help you draw boundary lines around your creative work? What are they? We’d love to start a conversation around this.
[iPhone image by Jacob Munk-Stander; Camping image by Rob Malouf]