It is February in the Lowcountry, but it doesn’t feel like a winter day. Today is beautiful and mild. The birds are singing – especially the Cedar Waxwings, their shrill whistle as they look for berries – and we could not ask for a more beautiful day. My children and I enjoyed sitting on the porch in our PJ’s while I finished my coffee. Later today we will take a walk “on the back roads” to explore. This is one of their favorite things to do.
St. Augustine of Hippo, (354 – 430 AD), is thought to have coined the phrase “Solvitur Ambulando.” It means “It is solved by walking.” It is the belief that sometimes to figure something out, we just need to walk a bit to “clear our heads,” and the solution will be forth-coming. Of course, this will not hold true with all things, but we are mostly talking about creativity here and finding tools to enhance the process of creating.
St. Augustine was onto something, though. When we are “stuck” in our creativity and wanting to “jump start” our flow of ideas, a good walk can help. Here is what happens on a walk. Walking is something we do without thinking a lot. Because of this, our mind is able to wander and take in images. Images of nature, of our neighborhood, or the town we live in, can give birth to new thoughts or ideas.
Steven Spielberg is said to have remarked that he got many of his best ideas on his commute to work. The act of driving is second nature to most of us, so our minds can concentrate on driving automatically, and often our creative mind comes up with all kinds of things.
A walk in nature is relaxing and can get us away from technology that is all consuming. A walk in a park can be just as fruitful. I love walking in older towns. Architecture spurs my creative thinking, too. On the backroads of our state I am always intrigued by abandoned and decaying buildings and homes. My thoughts tend toward the “whys,” and what was it? Visions of more robust times in these areas.
Getting away from our routine and seeing new images is always refreshing to the heart and soul of the creative person. Walking the beach seems to be good for anyone.
Some days, when I have a particularly pressing question or problem in my mind, I think about my question, or problem and then head out – sometimes for a walk, and often times, I go for a run. The repetitive nature of either leaves room for my mind to wander. Taking time to journal a bit after these “jaunts,” can yield some surprising answers.
Because creativity is about the act of seeing images, whether sewn, painted, sculpted, or dramatized, it is important that we find a way to keep “filling our mind” with more images. This is one of the things that happens when you walk. Your mind takes in new images and stores them for later use. All of this is covered in Julia Cameron’s book and you will greatly benefit from reading it, especially if you are in a place where you need to jumpstart your creativity.
Tomorrow, we move onto the next of Julia Cameron’s “tools” for enhancing creativity. Until then Enjoy a walk!
Finding Joy in the Journey,