The Tragic (Creative) Gap

Part of not feeling creative is feeling uninspired. 

“But I don’t even know WHAT I would MAKE…!?”

Close your eyes. Wait, don’t do that. You’re reading. 

Close your… third eye? I don’t know. Just, whatever, you know where I’m going. 

Parker Palmer says the tragic gap is the space between the world that we know is possible, and the world as it is. 

If we leave the gap and just go to the world that is possible, we might fall into “irrelevant idealism.” We’ll be putting pictures on Instagram of the wall-hanging-platitudes your sort-of-friend’s parent(s) bought at Target. Or worse, we could become the type of starving artist who believes so much in a thing nobody else cares about that we waste away, quietly, in isolated, frustrated irrelevance. 

If we leave the gap and just go to the world as it is, we might fall into “corrosive cynicism.” We’ll be so sure wasting time on creating anything that doesn’t produce a buck is worthless all we’ll do is chase bucks. With spreadsheets in hand, we’ll dominate our schedules, lives, and never have time for the joys of bulls***. 

But the tragic gap – 

In between the ability to dream it and to do it, lies the tragic gap. 

It calls us to stand in it. And when we see the world we know is possible on one side, and the world as it is on the other, we can make a bridge. No matter how small. 

No matter how big either. 

A bridge over the gap. 

And that’s authentic creativity. 

Seeing the bridge only you can see, and then setting out to try to build it. Not necessarily to succeed, and not necessarily for profit, just to try. The act of being creative is the act of accepting inspiration as always being a step, a reach, a look, a smell, or a thought away. 

Just go.

Ps. The call? It’s curiosity. It’s the muse speaking. It’s rooted in memory and intertwined in your DNA. Your curiosity is always what makes you you (so maybe don’t ignore it, h/t Tom Morgan)