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02/27/2006 Archived Entry: "Insights about insights (another report from my Year of Silence)"

CREATIVE INSIGHTS HAVE BEEN FLYING AROUND HERE like miller moths in June (and if you've ever lived in miller moth country, you know that's a LOT of insights).

Since I disconnected from the phone and Internet and went to the silent meditation workshop earlier this month, I've followed a lovely, gentle, but always curving and surprising path. There have been SO many times I longed to blog some new thought or experience I've discovered around the latest turn in my life.

But I haven't been sure that you guys who come here expecting privacy news or gun-rights or monkeywrenching or some rant about the latest idiocies of Our Glorious Leaders would care. (If that's the case, save yourself some time and quit reading now.)

Then last night I had an insight about insights.

Always in the past I've rushed to scribble down every new insight, article idea, creative thought, or pithy phrase. I was so afraid to lose any precious idea -- as if my supply of insights was finite and the best ones would all fly away and leave me empty if I didn't capture them.

But yesterday evening, as insight-moths fluttered past, I realized that a sort of Heisenberg Principle applies.

An insight is part of a flow. Try to pin it down long enough to observe it and the very act of pinning changes it.

An insight isn't an end; it's a means. It's a process. The specific thought that might be labeled "insight" has meaning only within the larger process it took to arrive at it.

Here, I'll share an insight I had last night: "To be deeply creative is to embrace being a holy fool."

"Well," you might say, "so freaking what?"

And I can only nod, "Precisely. So freaking what." If you're somewhere near, or striving (even unbeknownst to yourself) to reach, Creative Holy Fool Land, such an insight might strike you like a bolt of lightning. But if you stand at some unrelated viewpoint on the universe at this given moment, a statement like that might strike you as a bolt of pure, time-sapping idiocy. What a damned, impractical notion, being a holy fool! What an unoriginal, unprofound thought!

Sometimes you'll read or hear a statement and it means nothing to you. Then you'll hear it again five years later -- and the heavens will open. It's perfectly possible that an insight is actually a concept that's been around for centuries -- like mine above. But only at a certain moment can it become part of you.

A holy fool in the abstract is one thing. But when you realize you personally need to become a holy fool as the next step in your own formerly nice, reasonable life, it's a revelation and a commitment.

This isn't the sort of thing people check their morning blogs for.

So let me just say I'm having an astonishing journey and that several times in the last few weeks I've been staggered, humbled, enlightened, astonished, overjoyed, comforted, frightened, and sometimes wildly amused by the things I'm finding inside my own soul -- or things the world is throwing at me now that I've made time and mental space to receive them.

I'm not a believer in any doctrinaire god. I have no idea who or what made the universe. If it was a creature or committee of creatures (and the universe definitely feels like something designed by committee) I doubt that it, or they, notice the presence of human beings any more than you or I notice the microscopic creepy-crawlies that live in our carpets. Nevertheless, it's undeniable that once you're open to receiving strange little gifts from the universe (or from the god or gods or however you want to put it), the universe delivers.

Some of these gifts are perfectly explicable, even to a devout skeptic. Occam's razor says that no matter how much they feel like lightning bolts, they logically come from within -- just the unconscious mind making sudden, rapid, not overtly rational connections. Others ... different story.

For instance, last week I was puzzling over a dilemma. It involved creativity and money. I decided to take a break and look at a book on an entirely different subject. I opened a cabinet I rarely ever look into. And there, a few books down from the one I wanted, was a trade paperback I'd bought at a garage sale years ago and never even browsed. A book about artists and spirituality.

I pulled it from the shelf, opened it -- and the very page it opened to was the beginning of a chapter addressing creativity and money. Now you can call that coincidence. You can call it serendipity. You can call it synchronicity. You can put whatever name you want on it and make yourself feel as if the world is a nice, rational place, and as if a name is the same thing as an explanation. But it would really be reaching to say that my feeble little brain did that all by its lonesome.

I haven't just had one experience like that. In the last two weeks, I've been positively reeling with them.

It's dizzying. Exciting. Profound in its way. But very hard to write about.

Posted by Claire @ 12:59 PM CST

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