Alexander Graham Bell was attempting to invent a hearing aid. Columbus was trying to get to India. Post-its were born out of glue that didn’t work right. Velcro was invented from pondering annoying burrs stuck to the pants from a walk. Steve Jobs applied what he learned about movement and perception while ballroom dancing to his video game Breakout. Archimedes had his eureka moment while in the bathtub, and Einstein and Edison both had their best ideas while napping, when their minds were idling and not trying so hard to work things out.
Harvard Medical School now offers art classes because it has been proven that it makes their students observe better — so the better doctors are artists too. One thing often leads to something different, so it stands to reason that diversity of knowledge and experience will lead not only to creativity and inspiration, but also to success in any field.
We live in a world of specialization, where we are coached to put on our blinders and focus on only one thing. I think this has gotten us in the bind we are now in, with many feeling dull and uninspired, with careers spiraling downward instead of upward. It reminds me of the inter-breeding of Europe’s royalty — that did not foster the brightest offspring.
Something fresh entered into any situation will provide a spark and a catalyst for something good. Why was the Golden Age in Greece so powerful or the Renaissance so revolutionary? People were open to new ideas and were around other people exploring something new as well. As this reverberated, the echo enlarged and more possibilities were born.
This is what we need today. Just as we have been taught to diversify our investments, we need to broaden our horizons and learn something new. It is dangerous to be stuck in a rut going nowhere.
We were made by God to include all right ideas and should not compartmentalize ourselves, limit our interests or our expression of good. There are countless channels for us to pursue.
For me, spirituality feeds my art and my art gives an outlet for spiritual expression as well as a focus to meditation and prayer. Nature feeds my soul so I’m more spiritually effective and reflective, while nature also feeds my photography which in turn feeds my art. Novels expand my world as much as nonfiction, movies, friends and poetry.
Cooking is an artistic medium, nourishing body, soul and eye, as well as relationships. Homeschooling is both a creative and nurturing act which I couldn’t do without the spiritual sustenance that I’ve derived from my various endeavors, but in turn, it replenishes me and others in many ways. I get more done and am further along in my own trajectory doing all these things simultaneously instead of focusing on any one.
I am fresh and interested and alive to each moment. I would have this for everyone. Don’t pigeonhole yourself or let others do it to you. My mother used to say derogatorily that I should “stop chasing butterflies.” But now they sit on my shoulder! Beauty is all around me because I engage with it in so many ways; never limiting good, it is always present.
Cross pollinate your activities. Get ideas from one thing you are doing and apply it to something completely different. Distract yourself with a bath or a nap so the great ideas can come. See the opportunities in the things that didn’t work out the way you planned; there is probably a better idea angling for your attention. Keep circulating. Spawn freshness into the world. Creativity and inspired solutions are not elusive when you mix your media. Get out of the box, and stop persisting at that grindstone.
This truth shall not only make you free but much happier, more interesting and more constructively productive. Great things can happen when you are working on something else. Synergy is more than the sum of the parts. Cook up any incongruous parts that you are drawn to and watch your unique synergy unfold. You’ll love the remarkable results.