A few years ago, I read some research from a PhD studying creativity. His findings showed that people who operate creatively (not necessarily just artists) have a lot of down time and rest in their lives. He discovered that it is during rest that the subconscious brain makes connections between disparate information that has collected over time, and finally reassembles it into a new idea. AHA moments, he said, can only come when the brain has enough “off time” to actually percolate over the information. This, in part, dispels the myth that creative people are just lazy… Artists & other creative people aren’t lazy: they simply need to turn off their brains in order to create novel ideas and artifacts.
Sometimes success looks like doing nothing. It looks like choosing to say no, even when people are clamoring for you to do something. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your work is to rest. Ultimately, this benefits the people around you, even if you are disappointing them (and yourself) in the short-term by saying no.
The Aurora Crossing is definitely in a season of rest right now. We’ve had multiple opportunities to perform, work, or write, but both Ana and I feel very strongly that we are to say no, for the moment. This seems counter-intuitive. Paradoxical. Why on God’s green earth, when we want to get our music, art & message out there, would we choose to take a break?
Because we need one. We’re both high achievers. We run hard, we run fast, and sometimes we run into walls. After months of wrestling with disappointment, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and despair that the Aurora Crossing has screeched to a grinding halt, I am finally coming out into the wide open field of gratitude. Once again, I’m discovering there are no accidents. Gifts of life are hidden inside seasons that often feel and look like death. I have been wrestling, grieving, shaking my fists, calming down, and then doing it all again… but I’m moving toward surrendering to what is. I am responsible for my choices & responses, but there is a bigger story happening here, and I am learning to trust that whoever is writing it knows what I need.
For the moment, Ana and I are both taking a break from creative work to focus on self-care. We’re learning (slowly) to embrace the limitations, pleasures and beauty of being embodied creatures. We are desperate to be humans, not machines. We want to create from a place of rest and wholeness, not frenetic activity. We want to write and share and live from a place of quiet strength. We want to have the internal resources we need for the marathon of creating and performing for our whole lives, not a short sprint, a fizzle, and a burn-out. We want to move forward in grace, not angst or striving.
We are being formed in the waiting, like a baby in the womb. The formation of a human being happens in quiet, in rest, in receiving all that we need from someone else’s body. We come to being in the dark, hidden from sight. No one wants a baby to be born prematurely. Every moment inside of her mother is important for the baby’s health. The heart needs time to form so it can beat with strength for all its life.
I have a clear sense that whatever we are receiving now–because a season of rest is a season of receiving–is something that we need, and that you need, also. We cannot give to you if we are empty. We don’t want to be conduits that hold no water for ourselves, constantly being drained out. We must get filled up in the deep places and spill over, like a reservoir.
This quiet time is gently revealing places in my soul that are incomplete, in need of formation. Our hiatus on creative work is making space for me to open my heart up to God, being present and receiving in this moment. Gratitude is helping me to ignore the cultural noise shouting that we ought to be doing something, and to trust that we ARE doing exactly what we are intended to do in the moment: Resting.
There is a time for everything, both rest and labor. Babies don’t stay in the womb forever. God, help me enjoy the quiet, while it lasts.
What season of life are you in? Are you wrestling with it? Embracing it? What hidden gifts do you discover through reflection and gratitude?