Thursday, November 01, 2007

Turmoil, Stress, Creativity

While we were on holiday in the Bahamas recently, myself and boyfriend number 2 make use of the spa facilities at the hotel we're staying at. When we arrive at the spa reception on our first visit, the receptionist asks us to fill out a form which asks us lots of questions about ourselves.

"Hmmm, they want me to rate my stress level out of 10," I say to boyfriend number 2, trying to assess what the answer should be.

"You're only a 2," replies boyfriend number 2, "definitely!!"

Briefly, I feel surprised. I work in a high stress industry, I have a 'complicated' personal life, and I rarely have time to relax in the conventional sense. But on reflection, I think boyfriend number 2 is probably correct. I'm usually not very stressed at all.

Since then, I've been thinking a bit about stress and turmoil, which reminded me of the famous Cuckoo Clock Speech in the film classic The Third Man. It's delivered by Orson Welles towards the end of the film, and goes something like:

In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!

It's a very perceptive observation, and as wikipedia points out, the concept bites even more when one is told that the cuckoo clock is actually a German invention. When people feel contented and safe, there's little incentive to achieve anything, or to make things better in any way. Creativity is far more likely when a person is in a state of turmoil.

I actually think I'm a good example of this idea because in terms of my own situation, I reckon that I've been quite creative over the last year or two. Apart from this blog, I've done quite a lot of original work in my professional life at the Bank, and my boss seems pleased with the results. In addition to that, I've also acquired a hobby devising gambling schemes. So over the last couple of years, as my personal life has become more chaotic, I've definitely being doing a lot more creative stuff.

The mystery is why I'm not stressed. Perhaps I'm somehow able to channel the energy created by the turmoil into creativity rather than stress? I'm not sure, but one thing I am certain about is that I enjoy trying to be creative. So if I'm going to be successful at it, I guess that means that I can't afford to let my personal life settle down!


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, GB.

You're fortunate that you can manage your stress better than most, making it work for you rather than against (not something I'm good at!). I agree with the old adage that to create a diamond, you must apply pressure.

It's also interesting that you see your work, or at least your approach, as being creative - not something I'd normally associate with banking. I've recently learned that creativity doesn't begin and end with art.

Anonymous said...

Hey, that was one of the first thought that came across my mind when I met you! That you appeared carefree, stress free and too jovial to be a straight-faced banker!

A senior manager where I once worked broached the concept of creative tension. And it meant exactly what you have observed and said in your blog GB.

I think you have a good balance of stability (stable job), chaos (your relationships), peace and fun (your seemingly numerous holidays which are the envy of me!) and skills (your analytical mind and programming skills) which culminate into a level of tension from which creativity can spring!

Superchilled said...

We all have loads of things in our lives that can create stress - but whether we experience stress or not depends on how we react to those things.

Being in a situation where you're problems solving all the time - can be a challenge or a headache - it all depends on yuor perspective. Sometimes being under pressure to perform makes you more efficient - you have little time but need to make the most of it - so you create solutions that minimise stress, that can be quite innovative.

Keep up the stressors!!

Masturbedroom said...

Channel some of that creativity into the "bateroom" GB. There hasn't been an Encounters post in a while :) xxx

Sasha said...


I thinkg creativity offers one a channel for all negative thoughts that may be holed in an rise the stress levels. I've had quite a traumatising year, but blogging has giving me an outlet to think anout some thing else apart from the daily hussles and really, i'm more relaxed and sleep better.

Humming Bird in Hyde said...

I think your level is 2 because of one thing. It starts with Gorgeous and Japanese :-)

Will said...

Unstressed though you may be, trust me that you are a magnitude more interesting than a cuckoo clock.

Anonymous said...

what happened to the encounters?

GB said...

If creativity only meant art, that art would still be being painted onto cave walls China Blue!

And that's quite creative Masturbedroom, inventing words which make sense in the context of your name LOL! I may do more posts about encounters at some point, but the truth is that my life has been very quiet in that area. Only four encounters with new guys over the last three months. As I've said before, at the moment I'm trying to be happy with a small number of regular boyfriends.

GB xxx

Masturbedroom said...

Oops, I forgot that bf2 knows about this site when I posted that comment. But I guess your naughty ways are part of what he finds endearing about you, no? In the mean time I'll randomly pick one of your old encounters posts for a read, they never get old you know. x