This is a statue of Shiva
The Hindu deity that dances the dance
of creation and destruction.
This post was provoked by a comment on my first post on the Creator and Destroyer in our lives. The comment was left by DrSteve whose blog is The Top Two Inches where he writes about thinking, psychology, ethics, therapy and much else besides. Always in an interesting and stimulating way with solid content – I recommend you visit and bookmark it.

His comment was:

I wonder whether the idea raised in this post can be developed somewhat. The separation of the two tasks is no doubt useful – but what would it mean to see that creativity IS destructive (and vice versa).

This got me thinking.

Creativity and Destruction

I have no trouble with the idea that creation involved destruction. Making anything from a sentence to a cake to a play to a skyscraper means rejecting other options. It means taking raw materials (flour, cement, whatever) and using them. The materials are changed in the process.

This applies to our relationships too. Old habits and attitudes have to go sometimes if we are to move on. This is hard. It can feel like that is who I am. And yet this isn’t the whole story: if these old habits were all of who we are we wouldn’t feel stale, we wouldn’t want something new. This doesn’t make it easy.

One way through this dilemma is

to look more closely at what we are clinging on to.

If it is a memento we may be able to find another object to fill it’s place. If it is a relationship we will need to find other relationships to take its place. We need to be clear about what it is that we value and what we need to discard.

Perhaps in a relationship we value the closeness and ease of an old habit – though wish to be able to do things in a new way as well. This will probably involve talking to the other person or people involved.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Perhaps I enjoy doing the washing up together with my partner but hate the way the other person washes. I can try talking to them about this and coming up with a solution that we both like. Or, if we can’t find a way we both like I can find other ways of feeling close – taking turns doing the dishes and then doing something else together instead. Bigger changes may involve looking for a slightly different job in the same area of expertise or varying the way we discuss conflicts we have.

Destruction and Creativity.

We certainly need to be able to remove obstacles to our health and growth. These may well have to go. I think there are different levels to this. Perhaps a personal example will help to say what I mean.

I was studying acupuncture at a college in Australia and one teacher was simply dreadful. She spent an entire term simply reading a textbook to us and maybe adding a comment here and there. Getting home one night after class I was simply furious (to understate the case somewhat). I thought: there has got to be a better way than this. And then I asked myself: So what is acupuncture about anyway? The answer that came to me was: the channels, the vital fluids and the devils [apologies to those who don’t know acupuncture], that’s it, that’s all there is. This led me to a much simpler method for point selection – an area of much confusion and complexity for acupuncture students. My anger led me to destroying the old way of presenting acupuncture and coming up with a better one. This demolition job on the incredibly tedious way acupuncture is usually taught was very creative. It led to a burst of creativity that lasted months and led me to putting together a whole book about this new approach. (I am currently putting this approach online on my other blog )

However there is a kind of destruction that leads to annihilation

(we could say ‘rage’ rather than ‘anger’).

If I had been enraged with this rotten ‘teacher’ (and the college who was willing to pay her and take money from me for this ‘teaching’) I could have gone home, torn up my books and notes and stormed in the next day to quit the course. This would have destroyed my connection to that lousy ‘teacher’ and I would have stopped having to endure their rotten classes. But I don’t think there would have been much that was creative in my response.

Rage is good when the situation simply needs to be done away with

so that we can start afresh.

I’m not trying to say that rage is bad – only that it doesn’t involve creativity. It may be that we need to burn clutter or have nothing to do with a person or institution ever again. In these situations rage is called for.

So for me there are different levels of destructiveness. Some involve creativity and others don’t.

I hope you find this deeper look and the Creator and Destroyer in our lives stimulating and useful. I’d like to thank DrSteve for provoking me to think about it.

6 Comments to “Creating Involves Destroying.”

  1. DrSteve says:

    Evan – thanks for the mention!
    Your pesonal example re acupuncture training is really stimulating. Inadvertently this teacher helped you to think for yourself.
    Unintentionally, bad teaching can produce great learning if it’s bad enough and the student is motivated enough!
    (I love your use of the photo, by the way.)

  2. terraflora says:

    Hey Evan… I was just following some breadcrumbs that DrSteve left and found YOUR site. I am already late for work, but consider yourself officially bookmarked! I can’t wait to come back and digest what I’ve just skimmed over!! Good stuff!
    And yummy images, tooo!

  3. terraflora says:

    dang… now I really AM late. :}

    Evan – this is wonderful.
    The energy that is loosed in us when we ‘appropriately rage’ is phenomenal. I had not thought about this in this way until now.. as I juxtapose your description to a recent betrayal that I truly (for the first time in my life) RAGED against. But as I continued just being with that feeling AND healing.. I experienced such a rush of energy and Life and .. I guess it was creativity!
    Thanks for the enlightenment!

  4. Evan Hadkins says:

    Thanks terraflora.

    It’s delightful to know we connected so well.

    And thanks for bookmarking me too. Please let me know if you want me to follow up on anything or what you would like to write about (I don’t know that I’ll know anything about it but I’ll certainly try to say something worthwhile).

    Thanks again,

  5. DrSteve says:

    evan – Thought you’d be interested in this post on Freud’s concept of Thanatos.

  6. […] Creating Involves Destroying […]

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>