Sunday, August 30, 2009

Creativity, Venting, and Change

Do you ever vent?

Blow off steam?

Griping to your spouse about your boss or your child's school situation. Complaining to your best friend about your mother in law or your wayward cousin. Moaning and groaning to anyone who will listen about your inability to create because of your time commitments outside your studio.

Me, too.

The thing is, venting is non-productive. Yes, it makes you feel better in the short term. You get to have your say and someone who loves you makes murmuring noises in support of you.

But nothing's changed.

Let's consider history for a moment. These terms, 'venting' and 'letting off steam', come from one of history's significant inventions--the steam engine. For the first time, a person didn't have to depend on the variables of the wind or tide. Nor did a person have to harness an animal's muscle or his own to move a load from one point to another. A hot fire under a vat of water turned the water into steam vapor.The resulting vapor built up pressure and was eventually forced into an engine where the pressure powered pistons and turned gears. A steam engine could move comparably huge loads of men and cargo with little effort. Across a bay or up and down a river using a steamboat or across a sprawling continent with the railroad. Steam was the most powerful fuel of it's day.

To be effective, steam has to be captured and directed. An uncovered pot of water boiling on the stove is not going to move anything. Heat applied to a closed container of water will build pressure. If that pressure is piped correctly, that pressure will move a piston which moves a gear which moves a wheel which moves boat, train engine, or steam shovel. As long as that pressure remains, things move.

When we 'vent' we are like the pot busily boiling on the stove...there's a lot of heat, a lot of bubbles, a lot of steam. But nothing moves. All that energy wasted.

Whatever is causing a hot spot under your pot...don't boil and bubble to your buddies. Use that energy to power a change in your life. In other words, don't complain without doing something to fix the situation.

Break the venting habit. No 'letting off steam' this week. Use that energy to find a way to modify the situation or your attitude about it. Even doing one small thing can make a difference.

If you dare, leave a comment about what you vent about most frequently. And what small or large thing you will do at the first available opportunity to make a change in the situation.

Me? I'm going to quit griping about not having as much time as I want or need to create and MAKE some time in my life.

I'm going to write a few letters and make a couple of phone calls to some folks about important issues.

It's a start.

“Steam is no stronger now than it was a hundred years ago but it is put to better use” -Ralph Waldo Emerson (American poet)

"No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.” -Joan Rivers

2 Other Creative Souls are Saying:

Allie said...

Good post, Deb! I used to get so angry, and my house would get really, really clean.....I did use that energy, lol! Now, since menopause, I don't get angry. I miss the energy, but not the anger!

Becky said...

Deb, I had to read this post twice. The first time, my thoughts kept getting interrupted by "I'm a Little Teapot..." So, I had to go look up the lyrics. I never realized there were two verses! I guess the lesson in that little ditty is: "when life gives you a tempest, make some tea" (LOL). Seriously, your thoughts on the topic of venting and making better use of that "steam" are motivation for doing better. Thanks!

First verse:
I'm a little teapot,
Short and stout
Here is my handle (one hand on hip),
Here is my spout (other arm out straight)
When I get all steamed up,
Hear me shout
Just tip me over and pour me out! (lean over toward spout)

Second Verse:
I'm a clever teapot,
Yes it's true
Here let me show you
What I can do
I can change my handle
And my spout (switch arm positions)
Just tip me over and pour me out! (lean over toward spout)