We are living in the universe with endless streams of data coming towards us at all times. At the moment it is estimated that each person produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day.
It was calculated that in 2020 total amount of data created was 59 zettabytes. One zettabyte is 8,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bits.
Don’t try to imagine that, you will break your brain! Its a lot!
And that is just digital data, that is quantifiable. On top of that there is data we consume and produce from our natural organic environment.
You may wonder how we are managing to exist in that soup of data. Fortunately we have this thing in our head that is called brain.
It is an organ that is encased in the layer of bone, muscle and connective tissues.
It has no idea what time of the day it is or what weather is outside the skull.
Well…that is not entirely true, because the eyes are outside of the skull and they are actually considered to be part of the brain itself that are pushed outside during the embryo development process.
But even considering the eyes, the brain only gets the information that it receives from the sensors that are located on the ends of the nervous system network.
Eyes register light waves and interpret them into electrical signals, tactile senses relay pressure information, auditory organ translates vibration waves and so on. Totally 5 agreed-upon senses and a sixth sense, that is debated among people.
So consider that all those zettabytes of data flying around and everything that senses register - if all that information was just freely entering the brain - it would fry it in seconds, or milliseconds, or whatever is the smaller measurement of a second.
But it doesn’t. Have you ever wondered why?
The reason is that we have filters set up in our brain.
It is called Reticular Activating System. It allows us to filter out a lot of information deeming it not necessary.
To help regulate that process of what to discard and what not to - there is a portion of the brain called amygdala.
It is the guard that watches for danger, and survival of the whole organism is depended on that organ. As you can imagine, it is a lot of responsibility and amygdala takes it very seriously.
In a nutshell this is the human earthly experience. Filtering out a lot of data to make space for something meaningful.
But how does the brain know what is meaningful and what is not?
Some say the brain is not even connected to the soul and consciousness, it is only a transmitter/receiver of that said consciousness. And if we were to start discussing consciousness itself - this conversation would go down a very deep rabbit hole.
Lets stay at the level of the brain and what it means for the creative people.
Maybe every single person on earth is creative and maybe everyone has exact same potential to becoming an artist. Putting aside another very complicated subject of nature vs nurture debate - we come to the fact that everyone has a free will and a capacity to chose what to pay attention to and everybody does.
Generalizations aside, this is how I perceive my experience of creativity and how I experience sorting through what to pay attention to and what to not to.
I have to admit, that at the end of the day, what determines my choices are the emotions. Even though emotions are made by the body when we think certain thoughts, that arise from us experiencing something. It seems to be a closed-loop system.
It has been discovered by science that babies are born with infinitely more neural connections in the brain and as they grow older - those connections are reduced and that is how those filters for experiencing world get established.
I would have to guess that as I child I have made preferences towards certain experiences and emotions that created loops of thinking and feeling.
I have interpreted things that I did, such as painting, dance, music, as activities that had the most potential to produce the best feelings.
There was also an infinite potential for endless variations in those activities.
Curiously enough, that endless potential did not seem to be enough at one point in my life. Somehow I separated from those creative pursuits because my experience of reality in those moments indicated that I was no longer experiencing those positive emotions that I was used to originally.
The carefree nature of drawing as a child or dancing without a care in the world doesn’t do very well in the harsh world of day-to-day living. Or so we think.
What could be the reason for that?
The answer is manyfold, but one thing jumps out at me - that guardian that has been trusted the survival of our entire being, amygdala, seemed to have taken it’s job too seriously and found itself at the front of the bus and started directing the show.
For me personally, the thoughts of survival highjacked my entire existence for many years, leaving absolutely no room for creativity.
Creativity, and connection with those pursuits that have a capacity for infinite potential, makes the life worth living. We understand it conceptually.
If that is true, then the infinite potential for solution exists to our many problems.
And by the same logic, when we disconnect from that potential, we stop expanding in thought and in action.
Survival is only concerned with maintaining and protecting the resources, never with exploration of the unknown.
And as humans, we are wired for exploration.
So coming back to brain filter and experience of reality - when I did not realize that my amygdala has stolen the show, I diverted all my resources towards satisfying its demands. Somehow they seemed to be so much more important than my need to explore.
Set of habits were put in place, routines were established and belief systems directed my actions. All went well until all those creative ways I used to access beauty, started calling back.
I was lucky, my creative aspects were relentless and never gave up, producing inner distress and a drive to change, culminating in a dream, that spelled out that I was a creative person and should do more creative things.
It is an individual journey, to reunite with your own creative self, but if I had to summarize the above here are the aspects that play the biggest roles:
1) As children we make preferences for how we like to access that infinite potential of creation
2) As our life progress and brain develops - sometimes amygdala convinces us that we need to focus on surviving
3) We either go through life carefully safeguarded from all dangers, or we eventually realize what happened and take the wheel back and regain the control of the journey.
What you need to know for your own creative journey are the following:
1) What you loved doing as a child the most
2) What aspects of life make you scared the most and remove them, as much as possible. (hint - news scare a lot of people, you may need to practice not watching the news, if you do)
3) Once you are able to negotiate with your danger detecting mechanism - you have to explore ways to experience your childhood preferences again.
This is important, because our creativity lies in those moments of curiosity and exploration. And what we get from it is infinite new ways for dealing with our old reality and transform it.
The more we are engaged with that field of infinite potential through our art, the more we expand, grow, evolve and change.
So only follow these steps if you want to change!