Saturday, June 30, 2012

Creativity Margin

Busyness is a virtue.

You know why? Because, when I look back on my life, I don’t want to see wasted time.

I want to set goals, get involved, use my gifts, change the world, even. I never want to be bored, because that means I’m lazy. I’m not even sure how often I want to be silent and still, because what does that accomplish?

I stay busy because there’s so much to do. And if I don’t do it, who will?

Or maybe . . .


That couldn’t be it.

But maybe it is for some people. Not me . . . right?

Except sometimes I wonder if maybe I stay busy because I’m afraid that when I look back on my life, I won’t have accomplished anything.

I think that’s what a lot of us do. We’re afraid that if we don’t keep doing all the time, we won’t have anything to point to and say, “That’s what made my life worthwhile.”

So we lock up dreams that seem out of reach, just in case we try and fail. We pack our days with activity so we can present God with a progress report at the end of the day, or week, or year, a list of all we’ve done for Him. We sometimes even transfer the pressures we feel to our kids, because even if we can’t measure up, maybe they can.

And we always stay busy.

This is why a lot of writers get ideas in the shower or in the few minutes before drifting off to sleep. Because, a lot of the time, that’s the only chance we give our brain to relax and take a break.

“Margin” is the white space around the edge of a paper (or a blog post). Without it, your eyes would get exhausted, never given a break. In fact, most writing experts will tell you to break up dense blocks of text for the reader’s sake. We need margin in writing, and in life.

Our culture tries to tell us to fill up the margin with technology, relationships, activities, even just plain old noise.

We’ve forgotten how to be still, how to listen, how to sit and think.

Taking time to be quiet helps me fight writer’s block and stress headaches and overinflated egos. It also helps me be more creative, hear God’s voice, and remember what it’s like to be a little kid again, quietly delighted by the simple things that I would have missed if I raced along at a freeway pace.

Don’t be afraid that you haven’t done enough. Most of us will be surprised by which of our so-called accomplishments will mean anything at the end of our lives. What I know will matter is the kind of people we were, and busyness can’t help with that.

But margin might. So reclaim it.

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