Do you have a pile in your inbox that’s just getting bigger? Are there unpaid bills, unreturned phone calls, repairs to your car, your bike, your home, or your computer that you’ve been putting off?
What about your health? Do you have a sore tooth, a persistent ache, or something that you know needs tending to?
When we’re busy living a creative life, its easy sometimes to ignore the mundane tasks and maintenance that is a basic part of being human. According to one of my favorite thinkers on creativity and flow states, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, somewhere around 20-42% of our lives are given to “maintenance activities” such as housework, eating, grooming, and driving.
But even though that may sound like a bit of a drag, Csikszentmihalyi writes,
…what your life is consists in experiences related to work, to keeping things we already have from falling apart, and to whatever else we do in our free time. It is in these parameters that life unfolds, and it is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.
So even though there are activities that may seem to steal valuable time from our creative pursuits, I assure you that taking care of loose ends can give you a welcome grounding and a creative boost when entered into with the right outlook.
And the right outlook, in my opinion, is this: all activities, including washing the dishes, taking out the garbage, paying the bills, following through with a difficult conversation, are all opportunities for creativity; all are opportunities to connect with the world and to affect it in a meaningful way.
After all, in the inconceivably delicate balance between form and energy, stability and change in which our lives unfold, an overflowing basket of dirty laundry, and our ability to do something about it, is as miraculous as the erection of the Pyramid of Giza.
So get to work!
Take a pen, write down three loose ends, and commit to taking care of them by the end of the week. If you need a place to make a commitment, the comment section below is a great place to let us know what you’re going to get done.