What a crazy coronavirus week. One way I’m trying to cope is to take comfort in an idea I read somewhere: “Creativity happens on the edge of chaos.”  (I would give credit if I could remember where I read it.) If creativity does happen on the edge of chaos, we need to get our preferred instruments – keyboards (both musical and computer), paint brushes, and knitting needles prepared and ready for action.  

 

My creativity has been going towards revising my memoir. Previous to reading Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s book, Living Revision, I didn’t realize what revision meant. I’m learning rapidly what it entails from my editor at Zion Publishing and quotes like the following from Andrew’s book:

 

“Revision requires inner work and thus is a spiritual practice. Through revision’s grueling demands and absorbing joys, we come more alive.” 

 

You may not like the word spiritual. I kind of like it – it suggests to me that there is more to the world than meets the eye, that the inner life – the mental and emotional states in all of us need attention, and that the virtues of compassion, empathy, and open-heartedness are important.

 

As far as revision helping me come more alive, this week I would say that Revision kept my mind from focusing only on coronavirus and scrolling through the news. In psychoanalysis, I’ve learned that my defense of (unconscious) choice, when it comes to dealing with scary things, is denial. If I deny that I’m afraid of contracting this new virus, which of course I am fearful of,  that this stance of denial will keep me away from the human qualities of compassion, empathy, and openheartedness. I also don’t want to panic. I want to do everything I can to protect myself and others.

 

Writing this it occurs to me that I am not only revising my memoir, I’ve been revising my inner world. Finding the middle place where I can feel my feelings is a challenge and this new virus is giving me a place to practice this revision.

 

A difficult part of revision, whether that be of a manuscript or a personality, is the degree of uncertainty that is part of the process. I wish I had a fool proof way to cope with uncertainty but I don’t. The best I can say is that I’m right there with you in these uncertain times.

 

What do you need to Revise? A way of thinking? An organizational strategy? An outdated habit? How do you manage the uncertainty of the corona virus? What have you had to revise? How do you manage uncertainty? Scroll down to comment section or email me.

 

CLUE for better living: Reach out and help someone who you think needs the boost of an email, phone call or snail mail or donation. I made a donation to the Food Bank of Iowa and felt relief after doing so – it’s a small thing but I’m doing something. 

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4 Responses

  1. Zen practice is about learning to be comfortable when nothing is certain because nothing is EVER certain. Right now we are all more aware of that than usual, but nothing is ever certain. We can still live fully right this moment.

    • Vicki – I love how you say it so clearly: nothing is ever certain. We/I like to think that I have control over somethings but as
      you say, that is not true.

      Living fully right this moment even as we revise our plans is my goal.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. According to Wikipedia:
    “The truly creative changes and the big shifts occur right at the edge of chaos,” said Dr. Robert Bilder, a psychiatry and psychology professor at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

    I think of it as chaos bringing about destruction, thus enabling/requiring creative rebirth/revision.

    Stay well!

    • Thanks Anna – I’m wondering where I read Dr. Bilder as the name is not a familiar one to me.
      Nevertheless, I appreciate knowing such an esteemed person made the statement.

      I like how you use destruction as a necessary component of revision. Some days, as I switch
      around parts of my manuscript to make a more coherent whole, it does feel like destruction. Will
      add that to my list of what revision is.

      Thanks so much for identifying Dr. Bilder and for your comments!
      Stay well,
      Nicky

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