Don’t be a vegetable, be an explorer

The well of creative capacity is both infinite and always in danger of running dry.

If I lived like a vegetable, thinking about nothing, reading nothing, interacting with no one, I wouldn’t be able to create. I’d have nothing to work with.

Now think about an explorer. Someone who lives a variety of experience so vast that there will never be enough time to pass on all they have seen and thought.

Of course, the choice isn’t between vegetable and explorer. There are different degrees.

But to be able to keep creating, we need to edge towards the latter. We need to live, not merely exist.

How?

There are three ways to live better: Wider. Deeper. Vicariously.

Wider – Broaden your experience. Experiment with your abilities, with those that are familiar and with those that you never thought you had. Talk to more people and enlarge your circle. Travel outside the bounds of your culture. Do more of what makes you uncomfortable.

Deeper – This is related to the ideas of mindfulness, awareness and presence. Living deeper means making more time for stillness and serenity. Why? So you can better listen to your own perceptions. So you can more fully appreciate the fluctuations in your thought and temperament. So you can observe just what is going on in that brain of yours.

Vicariously – Listen to stories. Learn about the lives of others. What happened to them? Feel their pain. Experience their joy and heartache and success and failure.

Read books. Watch movies and documentaries. Listen to conversations and music. Don’t consume passively. All creative work is an expression of a part of that person’s life. You benefit from it not by consuming it, but by letting it’s power wash over you. Doing this, you can live thousands of lives.

There’s a fourth way that only reveals itself when you do all of the above.

Create.

The key to moving from vegetable to explorer is to take all of your experiences, all of your self-knowledge and everything you’ve learned from the lives of others and make something beautiful.

Do that and you start the never-ending cycle:

To create we are compelled to live. And before long we live only to create.