“Most of the time I feel every year of my age,” said the retired adult art student, “but when I am here doing art, I feel like I am sixteen again.”
“Is it time to go already?! I can’t believe and hour and a half have passed!”
Life has a way of wearing down your edges. Some edges are well gone; the wisdom gained over years can increase your kindness and and tolerance toward others.
But the fresh perceptions and excitement of youth and new experience are truly a sad loss. And the dreams you had and allowed to drift away can take with them your passion for living and make you feel old and tired.
But the act of learning new skills, processes, and using them to create ideas unique to yourself, ah, seems to be magic. Time stands still, your aches and cares can disappear, and you become immersed in your own creative world.
How did you actually get into this place where time stands still and the real world goes elsewhere?
“…Brain studies on creativity reveal what goes on at that “Aha!” moment, when we get a sudden insight. If you measure EEG brain waves during a creative moment, it turns out there is very high gamma activity that spikes 300 milliseconds before the answer comes to us. Gamma activity indicates the binding together of neurons, as far-flung brain cells connect in a new neural network – as when a new association emerges. Immediately after that gamma spike, the new idea enters our consciousness.
This heightened activity focuses on the temporal area, a center on the side of the right neocortex. This is the same brain area that interprets metaphor and “gets” jokes. It understands the language of the unconscious, what Freud called the “primary process”: the language of poems, of art, of myth. It’s the logic of dreams, where anything goes and the impossible is possible.
That high gamma spike signals that the brain has a new insight. At that moment, right hemisphere cells are using these longer branches and connections to other parts of the brain. They’ve collected more information and put it together in a novel organization. What’s the best way to mobilize this brain ability? It’s first to concentrate intently on the goal or problem, and then relax into stage three: let go. The converse of letting go – trying to force an insight – can inadvertently stifle creative breakthrough. If you’re thinking and thinking about it, you may just be getting more tense and not coming up with fresh ways of seeing things, let alone a truly creative insight.
So to get to the next stage, you just let go. Unlike the intense focus of grappling with a problem head-on, the third stage is characterized by a high alpha rhythm, which signals mental relaxation, a state of openness, of daydreaming and drifting, where we’re more receptive to new ideas. This sets the stage for the novel connections that occur during the gamma spike….”
Cool. The place where the Muse lives.
When a person is sixteen, their physical state may be at a peak. Many feel healthy and strong, fearless and invulnerable. But they may also have feelings of personal inadequacy as they navigate the turmoil of adolescence.
With years of living can come development of self, of faith in what you have done and know how to do.
A creative activity that can transport a person to the state of feeling young and excited and capable of depicting something beautiful on paper is a wonderful activity indeed!
And when the activity time has drawn to a close, a person can rise slowly, stiff in muscle and joyous and full of wonder at how the time that stood still for hours has indeed passed on the clock. And that they feel so good about how that time was spent.
So – yes- art can be a fountain of youth, an insular time capsule that transports, stops time and feeds the spirit.
And can make you feel sixteen again.
Hope you have a creative week, to all!