On my recent work trip to Colorado, I began reading Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonathan Lehrer. While I’ve been doing simple things to enhance the creativity in my life (e.g., dressing more colorfully, painting, rearranging the furniture in my house, looking through Pinterest images for inspiration, coming up with artistic ideas), I never fully realized that these small steps are actually what lead us to great insights.
And yet some of us are propelled by an inner creative force even if we’re not taking active steps to bring ART into our lives. Lehrer uses Bob Dylan as an example. In 1965, Dylan was ready to quit the music industry altogether. Uninspired and sick of what he was doing, he decided to hide away in his Woodstock, NY cabin. His choice to stop producing work stemmed from the simple fact that it no longer gave him any joy. And when we have no joy or inspiration, we cannot produce.
Unbeknownst to Dylan, there was a force greater than him working its magic. While he was in Woodstock for respite, his creativity continued to bubble underneath the surface like hot oil…until it finally came shooting out of him like vomit (his term).
I don’t know where my songs come from. It’s like a ghost is writing a song. It gives you the song and it goes away. You don’t know what it means.” -Bob Dylan
As Lehrer explains, “[Dylan] didn’t yet know what he was doing–the ghost was still in control–but he felt the excitement of an insight, the subliminal thrill of something new.” This “something new”—the hope of possibility on the horizon—is often only realized when we rest and restore ourselves…when we stop pushing ourselves. Lehrer explains that Dylan would not have been able to write “Like a Rolling Stone” if he hadn’t listened to his intuition and hid away from the maniacal routine of his rock n’ roll, drug-filled life.
Disassociate the word “ghost” from any sort of preconceived notions of what you think it means (e.g., scary, frightening, haunting) and think about your “ghost in control.” Many of us have no idea what that would feel like…but once in a blue moon, we may have a flash of insight that allows us to unleash the transformative power that resides inside each of us. The “ghost in control” is really just our creative intuition pushing fear out of the way.