During my research period, I used each day to do a lot of creative writing. Every morning, I left the hotel where I stayed on one side of Djemaa el Fna, walked through the square, and crossed the street. I then approached the center point. It is to this center point, the minaret of the Khoutubia Mosque, that I walked and then around, revolving as if in some sort of daily ritual. On the other side of the mosque, the Moroccan government thought it wise to establish a set of gardens, well maintained and orderly, that many tourists walk through to get to the Khoutubia Mosque, on the agenda for every tourist coming to this city. I would find a bench, sit down, and start writing, cranking out ideas and pages like they were going out of style.
When I got tired, fed up, or needed a break, I would pack up my things and walk back toward the center point. I then rotated around it and left my play and related research behind, almost as if it remained tied to the flora and fauna of the park. It did not actually remain in that space, since it is really in my head, but some form of switch turned off in my head once I walked around that center point. It is the rotation that offered me an opportunity to take a break, to unwind, and to recharge. Without these two spheres, one for work and one for relaxation, I would probably have had serious trouble cranking out as much as I have thus far.
It was not easy making things up, all day, everyday. It required calling on a set of reserves that I normally only access once a month, or once a week even. When drumming, which is the other outlet I am more accustomed to, I cannot remember sitting down to improv after improv session for days in a row. I don’t know how grooves would respond to such demand, since part of what makes them so magical is their randomness and inconsistent nature. And thus, for my own sanity, this rotational center point was necessary. It may not have been real, and it may be 100% mental, but once I have finished it all, since everything is a work in progress, I will deal with its truth or falsehood.
Creativity is risky but incredibly rewarding. For anyone that puts their neck out there, a rock climber or an air traffic controller for instance, there is a fall back, a something that gives them space. For a rock climber, it is the knowledge that they can eventually unhook their harness and walk around, while an air traffic controller knows that they will be relieved by the next shift in due time. For the rest of us that don’t have these mechanisms institutionalized into our daily lives, we have to create them so that our personal creativity, risk-taking, and ingenuity is not met with our falling into a gorge of darkness and uncertainty. Separating spaces is crucial. What’s your center point?