December 14, 2009

Uncertainty is the mother of creativity

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On a recent episode of the show Iconoclasts, actor/comedian Mike Myers talks with physician/philosopher Deepak Chopra about the connection between humor and spirituality.

It's a fascinating discussion that takes us into the personal lives of both the men and behind the scenes of their work; we see what has brought them to their current occupation and passion and also what originally brought them together as friends. Some of the conversation around creativity caught my attention:

Mike Myers: "I want to be the architect of my own embarrassment. I will slip on my own banana peel, thank you very much."

This reminded me of Olivia Mitchell's post of a few days ago on making a fool of yourself in order to reduce stage fright. It also reminded me of another former SNL performer, Chris Farley, who said in an interview with Conan O'Brien that entering the stage falling down both breaks the ice with the audience and takes the butterflies away.

Being in control of your own "foolishness," taking the risk of embarrassing yourself actually puts you in the driver's seat. You have total control when you decide to take the risk, instead of being put into an awkward position by someone else.

Deepak Chopra: "I know a lot of famous people who are celebrities, but only a few of them are really creative. They all have one thing in common: They are comfortable with being insecure. So as long as there's that discontent of not being sure, that will take us to creative places."

For example, Cate Blanchett said in an interview once, "Weird and wonderful ideas always appeal to me. You've got to risk failure. That's what keeps me going - trying to improve."

Facing your insecurity forces you to keep going, keep trying, keep improving. Creative people can be very insecure. In fact, they're never satisfied, never sure they've achieved something great. It's the opposite of resting on your laurels, where you're sure you've created the best, most fabulous thing... and now you're done.

I also enjoyed this quote:

Deepak Chopra:
"I love the unknown. It's in the unknown that we live all the time, pretending it's the known. I start my day saying, 'I hope this day is even more uncertain than yesterday.' If life can be a series of perpetual surprises, that's the most joyful experience you can have. If you're willing to step into the unknown, then everything is a surprise."

I think we've all had some unpleasant surprises in our lives that perhaps haven't been the most joyful experiences. But to live our lives trying to control every moment is stifling, not to mention impossible. Allowing ourselves to embrace the unknown (while always being prepared, right, speakers?) can give us a sense of freedom and lightheartedness that precludes worry and apprehensiveness.

And here's my favorite last quote by Deepak Chopra:

"Humor is humanity's device to escape suffering."

I'll leave that one for you to think about.

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