Image by DAMIAN NIOLET
Sensuality and creativity were at a soda fountain having chocolate sundaes when sensuality said,
"You know, we're a bit different."
"I'd say that's putting it mildly," said creativity. "We're as different as sky rockets and driftwood. That's our kind of a bit different."
"But you have to admit," said sensuality, "different or not, we're equally valuable."
"You equal to me? I'll have you know I'm your better. Einstein was full of me. I made Einstein be Einstein."
"Hold on, I was in Einstein too. I was in the pipe smoke that went up his nose and soothed him while he thought. I was in the schnapps he sipped after work. I went sailing with him on vacations. Don't be stingy with the credit. I refreshed him so he could better use you."
"You were ok for him" said creativity, "but that's just because he had you under control. Many don't. Teenagers have been known to fill themselves with you by the time they first learn of me. Filled with you, they have no room for me."
Now as to the beneficial uses of sensuality, dashes of it, to be sure, spice creativity. But runaway sensuality has pervaded much of society, turning spice to poison. The lesser trouble is extreme sensuality, for it is rare. The greater is wholesale, ordinary sensuality: browsing through store merchandise; catering to one's looks; idling in amusement and bodily pleasure; spectating, directly and by secondhand accounts through news reports and gossip; and anything else that little relies on the cerebrum.
What few lesson books there are on limiting sensuality in one's life to its spice role is made up for by the greatness of one, the Odyssey: Odysseus is the upstreamer who relishes using his creative faculties, seeking excellence, goodness in the nth degree. With the Trojan war over, his project is to sail home to Ithaca and rejoin his wife, son, father and neighbors. A number of times the gods cast appalling bullies into his path, for instance the Cyclops which seals him into its cave, sentencing him to a static, futureless existence like its own. Each time he fights to save his skin, in the case of the Cyclops exploiting its one-eyed blindness in foresight, escaping by his creative wits.
If the Odyssey was just about Odysseus's fighting to save his skin, libraries would shelve it next to Tarzan stories. Mainly it is about Odysseus's fighting to save his creative soul against temptresses out to sweep him off his feet and into their fool's paradise. He knows the difference between the satisfactions they hawk -- satisfactions that merely stop complaint -- and the satisfactions from work that aspires to quality -- satisfactions that emanate from the creative soul. He knows that genuine life is of the cerebrum and our high nature, and that the tinny life results from sporting with our flesh and low nature.
And so he resists joining the drowsing herd of drugged lotus eaters who throw away their active imaginations to vegetate. He resists the bewitching strains of the Sirens, bent on drawing him into a pointless existence. He refuses Circe's seductive offer to spend eternity in frolicking, cuddling, and orgasmic excitement.
Some things have not changed since Homer's time. Now as then, the young despise boredom, time empty of pleasing events, the seconds lasting hours. Now as then, kicks are the cheapest solution. Years before the Muses can go to work on the young's high nature, sirens are enticing their low nature.
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What has changed, and relatively recently, is that our age is far thicker with sirens. We call them marketeers, and they have made a science of their methods to infect us with the latest itches and to sell us the latest means of scratching. They are behind the self-indulgent carnival of people lusting hand-to-mouth in search of the next occupying or titillating moment, and it is not going too far to say that if Shakespeare was born today, his character, a sufficient shield against sixteenth century temptations, would quite possibly yield to the many ways of killing time. Merely the presence of shopping malls, television, and transportation to faraway places might be enough to distract him, dilute his concentration, dull his wits, blight his responsibility to develop his high nature to his limit, and rob us of his works.
Fighting fire with fire has a preventive role here. Educators have untapped power to be marketeers themselves, pitching the merits and attractions of the creative life to their classes, and showing it is superior to the sensual life. Let them steep the young in the history of creating, and in great examples of creating and creators. Let them help the young discover and build their special creative faculties, and advance toward the day their obsessions and joy of creating turn on, and the itch of curiosity solves boredom naturally.
And let educators teach the young about the power of abnegation to combat sirens. Among the leading cases to discuss in the classroom is young Charles Lindbergh. As he tells in his autobiography, he knew that if sirens ever get the tip of their wedge in, the rest is easy for them. So when fame showered him with gifts, he went into solitude where reasons for self-restraint are always plainer and decisions easier. After landing his plane in the Utah desert to have the company of silence and stars, by morning he had resolved to give the gifts away, and never to sell his destiny to commercial interests. He would stay clear of material opulence. He would promote spiritual opulence. He would create great goodness for the world.
But can anyone who is already being swept mightily along on the downstream current do an about-face? Saint Augustine did. As a young man with little concern for ethics or the future, he gadded about looking for escapades, squandered his time on carnal lusts and playthings, and was a thief. One day, his identity crisis come to a head, he woke up feeling and thinking, I DISGUST MYSELF. Nothing short of being overtaken by the same feeling and thought about themselves can start the conversion of downstreamers to upstreamers.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Xlibris Corporation. ©2001. www.Xlibris.com
The Life of the Creative Spirit
by Charles Romesburg.
Drawing upon the ideas of more than three hundred notable painters, scientists, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, writers, poets, naturalists, actors, rock climbers and more, this book explains putting spirituality into one's life by creating great goodness for the world
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About the Author
Charles Romesburg has interests in business and ecology. He holds a Ph.D. in management science, and has worked in industry. Currently he is a professor of forestry, and has received his college's award for excellence in teaching, and The Wildlife Society's publication award for excellence in research. For more of his writings, visit website.