“As long as habit & routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge.” -Henry Van Dyke
The more settled we become, the more routine our lives get. Going through the motions of each day with nothing special, nothing different, or nothing new occurring.
The only circumstance I am truly grateful for that has resulted from my Post Concussion Syndrome, is throwing out a life of routine and welcoming in one of spontaneity. There are days where I feel abnormally well, these days are far & few between, so I take full advantage. These are the days of adventure, exploring, & self-growth.
Evaluation anxiety is that feeling you get when you are about to perform, compete, and so forth. In simpler terms, it’s second guessing yourself. The closest thing I can relate evaluation anxiety to in my life was playing competitive & collegiate soccer. The most constant constructive criticism I received from coaches was “to get out of my own head.”
As you climb up the ranks of competitiveness within any sport, the mental side of the game becomes just as, if not more, important as the physical. Your mental pre-game warmup can make or break you as a player. My best games that I performed were the ones where I was able “to get out of my own head,” let loose, stop overthinking and just play. Evaluation anxiety can stop you in your tracks and cause you to reconsider why you even play. It can disperse in all facets of your life, slowly eating away at your well-being; ideas stop flowing and creativity comes to a halt.
Analysis, overthinking, kills spontaneity. The conscious critical mind cannot be responsible for creativity but rather, the unconscious non-evaluative mind. Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, described creative people as “all there, totally immersed, fascinated and absorbed in the present, in the current situation, in the here-now, with the matter at hand.” Inspiration originates because creative individuals are willing to lose themselves and become totally engrossed in the present moment. The notion of fully living in the moment parallels to spontaneous creativity – it’s chaotic, messy, filled with dead ends, mistakes, challenges, and frustrations that all lead to that final moment where it all makes perfect sense.
These spontaneous creative moments that put evaluation anxiety to rest, I only experienced a handful of times when actually competing in games but in the realm of photography, I thrive off of it every time. It uncovers a whole new world into exploring & adventuring. I often find some of my best work as an artist is produced in lieu of those moments. Spontaneous creativity is a testimony to our deepest nature because it’s only in spontaneity where we are able to be who we truly are. Respectively, there’s a euphoria of clarity where it seems as if everything in your life is lining up as it should – all the dots have finally connected.
For two years of my life I was void of this feeling. When I medically retired from soccer, I was no longer able to connect with the exhilarating awareness that had become so vital to my overall well-being. It wasn’t until I pursued photography less than a year ago that it all clicked once more. The difference though, discovering the way spontaneous creativity worked for me when competing was deadening. I heavily struggled and found it difficult to let go in fear of making mistakes. In hindsight, I realize how silly that was because as an artist I’ve found that I produce my best work when I ditch the fear of making mistakes and get totally lost in the creative process that is before me. So embrace possibility, savor the moment, and let creativity erupt spontaneously.