Our lives can become very crowded: crowded with relationships, aspirations, tasks and just plain stuff. And this usually feels stressful.


We can end up feeling that we are buried under an accumulation of stuff that leaves little room for us.

And yet all this comes from things we don’t necessarily want to be without. We want to develop close relationships and live in beautiful surroundings that are personal and not just sterile.

I want to suggest an approach to this through archetypal psychology (as explained in Carol Pearson’s Awakening the Heroes Within). The two archetypes involved are the Creator and the Destroyer.

1. The Importance of Creativity

Ours would be a sad cookie-cutter life without creativity. Putting our own stamp on how we live is something that most of us at least aspire to. And creativity can be very addictive. Coming up with a satisfying creation or way of liviing is certainly work but it can also be profoundly satisfying – and so we want more of it. And pretty soon we can end up with a truly awesome accumulation of ideas and projects as well as the results of past projects, leading to lots of, well, clutter.

2 Destroying what doesn’t work for us

This is where the Destroyer comes to our aid. When we are in touch with our Destroyer we are solidly in touch with our anger and are able to be uncompromising. This stuff has to go! This too can be very satisfying and habit forming. So it is worth thinking before acting or you may find that you have gotten rid of stuff in a cleansing binge that you actually need. In the intellectual world Albert Einstein warned that: a theory should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

We don’t wish to trash everything, just those things which no longer serve us. Mementoes may serve us by reminding us of what is important to us, but if there are so many we don’t notice them or they are stored and haven’t been looked at for years, it is well worth considering them for the scrap heap.

I have found that it is perfectly possible to live without ironing (polo knits and chinos are pretty universally acceptable where I go) or drying up the cutlery (air and time will do it for me).  Not big things but my life is a little easier for being rid of them.

3 Elegant simplicity – enough but no more

If you have been involved in any of the arts you will know that any successful artwork is not only about inspiration (the Creator) but also the discipline to discard ideas that don’t work (the Destroyer). As the novelist Stanislaus Lem has said: every book is a graveyard of other books.

Creating without destroying is prolific but ultimately suffocating of life.


To Do:
The best exercise I know to get in touch with your Creator is quite simple and fiendishly difficult. Take a sheet of paper and rule up a number of squares on it – if you’ve got some graph paper use it. Now your task is to find as many ways as possible to divide a square into four equal pieces.
For the Destroyer here are some suggestions.
What don’t I (absolutely) need? That is if I didn’t have it I would still be able to live.
What is so important to me that my life would be less without it?
For everything else: why do I still have this.

If you have ways that you create elegant simplicity your life let me know. I’ll be very glad to hear.

6 Comments to “Creator + Destroyer = Elegant Simplicity.”

  1. DrSteve says:

    There is so much zooming around the blogosphere about zen habits, simplicity, etc. which is probably a good thing for multi-tasking bloger-types. However, I can become a bit, shall we say, jolly hocky sticks. This post on creator/destroyer is a healthy antidote. It brings to mind Freud’s much-maligned and misunderstood dual instinct theory: libido and thanatos. These two intincts function together, he said – it’s not a matter of trying to replace the latter with the former. That said, I wonder whether the idea raised in this post can be developed somewhat. The separation of the two taks is no doubt useful – but what would it mean to see that creativity IS destructive (and vice versa). Food for thought, thanks.

  2. DrSteve says:

    Oh, I am adding your site to my blogroll.

  3. Evan Hadkins says:

    Thanks DrSteve,

    You’ve got me thinking about creation being destructive (I’m not as sure about the vice versa).

    I think you are right about libido and thanatos. Freud had some extraordinary insight I think.

    I’ll do some thinking and see if a post results.

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, much appreciated. I’ve been having a look around your site. It looks great on first look, interesting topics and solid content. I’ll be having more of a look.

    A blogging techie question: does it take you hours to find the photos? I’ve considered adding photos here but the time it took me to find ones that didn’t really suit anyway means I haven’t done it.

    Thanks again.


  4. DrSteve says:

    No, it doesn’t take hours – unless I’m enjoying the search. I use flickr.com. Once you register and find a photo you like, click on it and if (as usually happens) ‘Blog this’ appears – use it. (Usually there are a few lines of html which appear above the photo – simply delete those.)
    For more places for images see:
    Good luck.

  5. Evan Hadkins says:

    Thanks DrSteve,

    I’ll check it out.

    You’ve done me a power of good. Many thanks.


  6. Evan says:

    I’ll be posting on Creation involving Destruction on Monday.

    Thanks for the suggestion.


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