Note 74: Creating is risky business
Turning corners, inhabiting time, packing right
I love when a patient turns a corner.
It’s not always dramatic (and sadly, we occasionally don’t quite get there), but every so often, you go home on a Friday and come back on a Monday, and it’s like the person you left has been replaced. It’s a beautiful moment when it happens, and it often puts me in mind of Michelangelo’s David: when asked how he had the idea, he said the David was always in the marble and all he did was chip off everything that wasn’t the David.
I believe that’s what we get to do with patients, and I’m lucky to get to be a part of that. It’s not a connection people tend to make, but I really believe healthcare at its best is a very real creative work. Not creative in the sense of trying new things all the time, but in the sense of something is actually being made together with the patient: the possibility of a different kind of future. (I wrote a bit more about that collaborative aspect in a previous essay, Dancing at Work.)
Speaking of creativity…
Cooking with creativity
Creating is core to our humanness, but that very fact makes it fraught with risk. There’s something exhilarating about having made something and being able to, “This is good,” but there can also be a very real sense of vulnerability in the moment of actually creating, or of waiting to see what the reaction of an audience will be.
I should know—I feel it every time I send out an essay or newsletter! And I definitely felt it when I wrote the essay for this week, on the multiple layers of creating, and the risks at each layer.
When I create, I feel both most alive and most at risk.
That’s one half of the creative paradox. You know what I mean, don’t you? And by creation and art, I don’t just mean drawing and painting, writing and music, and whatever other classic arts come to mind. I mean anything that involves making, effort and consideration: from big things like building a business or raising a child to seemingly small things like making a meal or making a presentation — or making love. And writing, certainly. There’s just something about having an idea, bringing it to life and watching it grow, that makes us also feel alive.
If it’s all so wonderful, then, why don’t more people create more often?
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Time after time
This week I’ve been reading, “How to Inhabit Time,” by James KA Smith, and it has this really great line:
Like most people, I frequently feel like I’m short on time, and it’s easy to fall into valuing any moment primarily for its usefulness as a vehicle for the next. But to live like that would be to rush to the end of a long trip only to realise you’ve left behind all the luggage you need there.
Because in the (hopefully) long trip that is our lives, our luggage is being packed (or not) from one moment to the next.
What are you packing?
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Impressive!👍I think 🤔 this is a clarion call to induce people to become creative and welcome team-spirit.If we don’t, who will?