Is Your Radar On?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Psalm 34 is the historical footnote provided in the heading: “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.”

So David pretends to be insane to get himself out of a tight situation then reels off a perfect hebrew alphabet acrostic poem of thanksgiving in response. Because that’s what you do when trick Abimelek!

The creative process is fascinating to me. You never know when or where inspiration will strike.

Psalm 34 is incredible. Some of our favorite lines from any Psalm can be found here (see vs. 8, 13, 14, 18). This Psalm and it’s intro remind me to pay attention.

God is always at work,
inspiration might strike at any moment,
and something beautiful just might be birthed in this moment of craziness.

Is your radar on?
Are you paying attention?

And when God moves in your life in an unmistakable way what is your creative response?

Like a Rolling Stone (The Radar is On)

I’ve been reading Life by Keith Richards and it’s fascinating for all the reasons one might suspect: the inside rock’n’roll story, the gossip about Mick, and the revelations about where the songs came from (Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a good one).

All that aside, what interests me about this book is not juicy stories of debauchery and came-from-nothing-to-make-it-big exuberance, but the insight it provides about longevity.

The Rolling Stones turn 50 this year. 50 years as a band. That’s a great marriage. No one stays in the game (let alone on top of the game) for 50 years in the music industry.

I don’t know the secret to that yet. I’ll let you know if I find out. But along the way Keith has some great insights to a whole bunch of things…creativity, cultural change, doing what you love to do.

Here’s a bit about the creative process (he’s talking about songwriting but I think you can insert writing, preaching, anything creative):

“Because you are playing, working, every day…ideas are flowing. One thing feeds the other. You may be having a swim or whatever, but somewhere in the back of the mind, you’re thinking about this chord sequence or something related to a song. You might be getting shot at, and you’ll still be ‘Oh! That’s the bridge!’ And there’s nothing you can do; you don’t realize its happening. It’s totally subconscious, unconscious or whatever.

The radar is on whether you know it or not. You cannot switch it off.

You’re constantly on the alert…You start looking around, and everything’s a subject for a song. The banal phrase, which is the one that makes it. And you say, I can’t believe nobody hooked up on that one before!”

Flaubert, Discipline, and Originality

I’ve never been a highly disciplined person. I have had to work at an organizational system that keeps me afloat, finally settling in to something reasonable in the last couple of years (thank you moleskine day planner).

In fact, younger Steve kind of rebelled against the whole idea of discipline, schedules, order, and various other synonyms. The reality is, whether one is spontaneous or structured, relational or task oriented, a “p” or a “j” (a little myers-briggs reference there for you), we all need some sort of structure to help us get through life, let alone the day.

Artists call it framing. The “framing information” lets you know if you are at an opera or a rock concert, whether this is photography or painting. In other words, there is no work without the frame.

(Keith Richards says, that for the musician, silence is the frame. I kind of like that.)

We need a frame so that we know what we are looking at, watching, reading, etc, and we need a frame to help us know what do, how to prioritize, and how to make decisions. Even those who espouse total freedom and throw off constraints are choosing a frame and making a decision about priorities.

I came across a quote recently that really drove all of this home for me. It’s from Gustave Flaubert, the 19th century writer:

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Oh man, I love that. I’ve never been so excited about organization in my life!

I don’t know what kind of frame you have or need. I don’t know if you need a google calendar, or a smart phone, or a good old-fashioned day planner and quad pen (my preference), but if you want to accomplish things…if you have goals and aspirations and dreams…prioritize, create a system (your frame), say no to some things (and throw some stuff away), and get to work!

The breakthrough moment for me: organization leads to originality. I’m in!