Stagnation and Creativity
I grew up in Ogden, Utah. More specifically, on the outskirts in a little town called West Haven. 17 years I lived here, from when we moved from Pasedena when I was five, to when I moved away at 22. I miss it every day. I miss the monthly gallery stroll on 25th street, the wide-open fields of cows and horses, the canal behind my parents’ house where I probably spent half of my childhood. The foothills trails and the duck park where I used to walk, my favorite restaurant that serves the most amazing stuffed pastas and infused oils with dippy bread, the salvage grocery store where I shopped in college, and the university campus where I struggled and thrived.
I visit my family here at least once a month, and I try to visit my old haunts as well. I miss Ogden every day, (especially in the height of Orem rush hour) but this weekend I realized that I don’t belong here anymore. My creativity feels stagnant. It’s too comfortable, too familiar, too loaded with memories, old patterns and energy that clouds my creativity now. I know that there are plenty of places around here that I haven’t been. There’s always more to explore, but I know these streets too well. I’ve tried every restaurant around here that I care to try. I can walk down any of the main streets like a tour guide.
“That’s where I had my first date with my ex-boyfriend who now hates my guts. I showed my first collage at that gallery. I used to think that building was haunted. That burger joint has the most amazing fry sauce. My car spun into that yard when they didn’t plow the roads one day.” On and on and on.
I’m a nostalgic person. I love reminiscing and mining my memories for inspiration, but I feel like my hometown has reached a saturation point. I can’t look at it with fresh, curious eyes anymore. My current town is still new to me. I’m in the sweet spot, where I have my favorite places, a close friend and I can find my way around, but I’m still exploring. The landscape is still different. I couldn’t draw the shapes of the mountains in my sleep. My new town has just the right balance of memory and mystery.
I can’t be stagnant. I’ve always suspected that I’d move around a lot once I grew up, but now I realize why. I need fresh places and things to explore. I need new trees to look at; a blank canvas, an empty page. Staying in the same place for too long is like trying to draw in a full sketchbook, erasing the old drawings or drawing right over the top of them. There’s a saturation point where you can’t make any new marks because they get lost in the old ones.
That’s when it’s time to get a new sketchbook, a new landscape, a new mindset.
If y0u feel stagnant, find something new.