It seems that lately I’ve spent more time thinking about my projects than working on projects. The creativity is building up without an outlet. I always feel like these obligations keep me from being creative, from creating. But just today I read the following passage in The Count of Monte Cristo.
Dantes and the Abbe Faria are talking in the Abbe’s prison cell. Dantes has just seen all the things the Abbe has fashioned while in prison including pens, ink, paper, tools, knives, a knotted fabric ladder and an oil lamp:
“I was reflecting, in the first place,” replied Dantes, “upon the enormous degree of intelligence and ability you must have employed to reach the high perfection to which you have attained; -if you thus surpass all mankind while but a prisoner, what would you not have accomplished free?”
The Abbe responds: “Possibly nothing at all; -the overflow of my brain would probably, in a state of freedom, have evaporated in a thousand follies; it needs trouble and difficulty and danger to hollow out various mysterious and hidden mines of human intelligence. Pressure is required, you know, to ignite powder: captivity has collected into one single focus all the floating faculties of my mind; they have come into close contact in the narrow space in which they have been wedged, and you are well aware that from the collision of clouds electricity is produced - from electricity comes the lightning, from whose flash we have light amid our greatest darkness.”
This makes perfect sense to me. Oh, the infinite wisdom of the Abbe!
I like my life to always be smooth; I like my days to be obligation-free. I thought all that space gave me more room to be creative. But when I think about it, my clouds really are wispy during those times. And during the times when my life is busy, my ideas become more compact, more like lightning! A little pressure, it turns out, is a good thing.
I have no idea why I didn’t realize this before. I always did my best work the night before a school project was due. My last minute papers always got the best grades. I always thought this is what taught me to be a procrastinator but maybe I became a procrastinator because wispy clouds do not make lightning, because pressure is required to ignite powder.
What do you think? Pressure vs. freedom? Which brings out your creativity, which makes you more productive?