Creativity, Reflection and the Importance of Taking Time Out

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Making history and influencing modern culture are two of the many accolades under Bob Dylan's belt. He also doesn't really give a damn about what's expected of him. Upon becoming the first musician to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in the award's history, Dylan gave an acceptance lecture with an important lesson about reflection and thoughtfulness, and in a very Dylan-esque way, showed that he's not as arrogant as society perceives him to be.

    He began the lecture by saying: "When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature." On the surface of it, this seems like a pretty nondescript thing to say. As he "got to wondering", he came to realise how his early creative connection with and admiration for Buddy Holly influenced his approach to writing and playing music, how his "principles and sensibilities and an informed view of the world" shaped his understanding of human nature, and how these things, combined with the literature of his grammar school days - especially Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey - had a profound impact on the ways he composed the legendary lyrics which still resonate today.

    By contextualising the direction of his lyrics in his appreciation of these particular three books, Dylan very eloquently and intelligently demonstrates how taking the time to step back from the humdrum of modern life and the various demands expected of us enables us to formulate a more meaningful and honest reflection which isn't clouded by the pressure of an instantaneous response. Dylan took several weeks to even acknowledge the Nobel academy and avoided any press or public comment about the award, and many assumed this silence as a typical Dylan nonchalance. It turns out, he was just gathering his thoughts and emotions rather than speaking on impulse.

   Reading Dylan's lecture (almost a year after he was presented it, oops) made me think about the stigma of taking time out, commonly construed as "wasting time", procrastinating, or simply slacking off. It doesn't take an exegesis of Dylan's lecture to comprehend the kind of creative satisfaction and sense of fulfilment that stems from practicing emotional intelligence. Many used the quotidian tendency of immediacy garnered by a society ruled by social networking as an excuse to berate Dylan's delayed response. We shouldn't be made to feel guilty for having a break from the daily grind, or postponing a task/activity until we feel ready, comfortable and prepared to carry it out - Bob Dylan certainly doesn't.

    A culture of urgency imposes a looming fear of failure to comply with certain standards expected of us, but in reality these two are incompatible. Juggling too much at once stifles creativity and productivity, so stepping back to focus on ourselves, and respect our minds and bodies by recharging our mental and physical batteries when needed are somewhat necessary to leading a contended life rather than one fraught with the anxiety of multitasking with multitasks.

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