Spiritual Creativity

Ideas for my reflection often come from rather unusual places.  The one for this came from an article I read in the paper.  The article had to do with procrastination!  I am not sure I would have read it, except for the fact it is written by Adam Grant, a writer I follow on Twitter and whose book on giving I have read.
           
Grant is a relatively young professor and scholar at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Wharton is an elite business school.  Grant teaches psychology and management.  He became interested in procrastination because it was so antithetical to his own way of doing things.  In fact he calls himself a pre-crastination person---one who is so obsessed with due dates and deadlines, he jumps on the work and always finishes ahead of schedule. 
           
Normally, I don’t see myself as a procrastinator.  I admit I sometimes wait until closer to a deadline than I should, but I am not always the one with my back to the wall under pressure to make it.  I certainly am not the pre-crastinator.  When Grant talks about himself in this way, I realize there is no way that describes me.  In fact I tend more toward the procrastination end than the pre-crasination end. 
           
What, might you, does this have to do with spirituality?  On the surface I would say it has nothing to do with spirituality.  But what Grant links to procrastinating is creativity.  And creativity does relate to spirituality, as I see it.  Let’s pursue that line from procrastinating to creativity to spirituality to see how it works.
           
Grant sets the stage when he acknowledges, “while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned---against my natural inclinations---that it’s a virtue for creativity.”  This fascinated me: procrastination is a virtue for creativity.  While I am not sure I would call creativity a virtue, the point was clear.  I understand Grant to say that procrastination makes a space for creativity.  I might say something like procrastination is the crucible of creativity.  Why is this?
           
Once more, Grant provides a clue.  When we think about creativity, we are obviously talking about new things---new ways of doing something to brand new inventions.  The question is: how do we get this?  Grant is clear how we don’t get this.  He tells us, “Our first ideas are, after all, usually our most conventional.”  I find this to be true.
           
If we want to be creative, it is typical in the beginning to think about things the way we normally would think about things.  When Grant says our first ideas are conventional, he is saying we think the way we usually think.  Predictably, there will be little or no creativity here.  Conventional ideas keep us in the land of the normal.  Hence, we come to the alternative that procrastination provides.
           
Grant puts it simply: “It turned out that procrastination encouraged divergent thinking.”  Divergent thinking is the key.  I have come to realize how important divergent thinking is if you want to be innovative and creative.  Divergent thinking is nothing more than thinking in ways you don’t generally think.  Or it can mean thinking in different places than conventionally you would.  Simply put, it means diverging from your conventional or usual way of doing things.
           
Grant personalizes it.  He says, “What I discovered was that in every creative project, there are moments that require thinking more laterally and, yes, more slowly.”  Here was the key that brought me to the spiritual realm.  In a way the spiritual journey is a journey of divergent thinking and living.  To live an authentic spiritual life is counter-cultural---not normal, conventional middle class American living.  We are called to give up control and let the Holy One take control.
            
Practicing spirituality means taking time to become available to another whose timing may not be our timing.  This is what prayer and meditation are designed to do.  In a way prayer and meditation are forms of procrastination.  They are time-outs from our normal life.  They expose us to unconventional and, often, creative ways to see life and to live our lives.  They are the procrastinating modes of transforming us to say, “not our will but your will.” 

When I think about procrastination as a form of preparation for spiritual creativity, I am pleased to see the connection.  I realize I need to procrastinate every day.  Unless I do, I will live boldly on with my own conventional life doing my own normal things---living far from the land of the Spirit where the only authentic, meaningful life for myself is to be found.  Waiting becomes my form of procrastination.

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