Still tasting the tortillas from my recent excursion to Mexico, I am most struck by one cultural difference here: a distorted sense of urgency of American life. We always have somewhere we have to get to, something else we must do, this to get done, that deadline to meet. It’s a badge we wear. Now, I know some of these tasks are indeed important right now, and that productivity is a hallmark of who we are. But, as un-American as it may be, Iâ€™m not ashamed to admit that I donâ€™t like being a rat back running on my wheel of “shoulds.”
Despite a more tranquilo relationship with time, the state of Oaxaca, like other areas of Mexico, is surprisingly safe, efficient and culturally vibrant. Creativity flourishes there, from its mole sauces to unique art contributions: black and green pottery, woven rugs and its colorfully painted woodcuttings known as alebrijes. But most amazing was the display of creativity during the Night of the Radishes, every December 23rd, where I and others waited in line for hours to see what artists could do with the otherwise inert and inedible root, which grows all around Oaxaca City. I’ve included a couple of examples.
I donâ€™t believe we should be sacrificing our sense of well-beingâ€”letâ€™s admit it, our happinessâ€”for the currency we now trade in, one that ties our sense of self with how busy we are and how many things we can check off our to-do list. As Iâ€™ve argued before, our culture of perpetual-tasking and doing-rather-than-being ultimately compromises the breathing room we need for our creative selves, and fosters a consumerist rather creator culture.
In a new ChangeThis article, Olivia Sprinkel mirrors my own contentions with her â€œCreativist Manifesto,â€ saying our most important choice right now is whether to be a Consumer or Creativist. She makes some thought-provoking distinctions between the two: having vs. being, certainty vs. uncertainty, movement vs. stillness, answers vs. questions. â€œTo be a Creativist,â€ she writes, is â€œto reclaim the right to our individual identities; to play an active role in shaping and in creating our lives from the inside out; to fulfill our need to create which is part of all of us.â€ Click here for more.
I have to admit: I struggle with this myself. I am an American, and I do feel the pressure of doing more, of finishing and publishing a book or three ASAP, of proving my worth through what I can say I’ve accomplished today. I am part of this culture that believes that claiming certainty to right answers will help my chances at success, even if I know that belief is as distorted as our incessant sense of urgency. Let’s help each other answer this more-urgent-than-we-realize question: How do we find the right balance?
For more fromÂ Adam’s Innovation on my Mind blog, click here.