Creativity is about entering the forest at the darkest point.
Embrace fear, highlight your flaws.
“You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realise your potential.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work
Conventional wisdom tells you to follow the trail. To go where someone else has already been. We don’t like dark and we definitely don’t like traipsing through the thicket. A canopy tour, yes, now we’re talking. A harness, a helmet and an indemnity form. But anything that requires you to carry a machete and anti-venom, no thanks.
So what does it mean to enter the forest at the darkest point?
It simply means that you shouldn’t do what’s been done before. Don’t try and be someone else. Seek out your flaws. Embrace them. Highlight them. Your flaws are the things that make you, your story and your art unique.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing cracked or broken pottery with gold resin. It’s about showcasing breakage and flaws and, instead of hiding it, making it a part of the object’s story.
That’s what being fiercely authentic is all about. It’s about being vulnerable enough to show your flaws.
Kintsugi ties in with the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi, which is an aesthetic or worldview which sees beauty as “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete,” as Leonard Koren describes it, “It’s a beauty of things modest and humble. It’s a beauty of things unconventional.”
“The idea of wabi-sabi speaks of a readiness to accept things as they are.” — Richard Martin
If you are ready to embrace and even showcase your flaws, you are ready to enter the forest at the darkest point. Because your story, your creation, your endeavour will be like no other. It will be authentic, flawed, honest and, yes, difficult.
You’re not doing what your dad wanted you to do. You’re not creating what you think will sell, what’s trendy or what’s been done before. You are harnessing your unique life experiences, your squeaky voice and your multitudinous flaws to create something that’s real, meaningful and truthful.
And if it’s real it will connect with people.
It will be scary. You don’t get a harness and a helmet when you enter the forest this way. There will be snakes, rabid wild boars and spiders the size of teacup Yorkies, but it will be your own crooked little path and it will have meaning.
“Be a voice not an echo.” — Albert Einstein.