Change and creativity

I was musing about career change this week, as you might expect. Looking back, and leaving out occasional fill-in jobs and stopgaps, I find I am now entering into my fourth career. All the changes have been brought about by shifting circumstances. On reflection I could perhaps have made more of the first, as an academic. But then again, I’m not convinced I would have enjoyed it; academic philosophy can be quite surprisingly aggressive and most formal philosophy takes place in fairly elitist contexts, although by no means all does. However, I remain convinced by the benefits of spreading good thinking and philosophical practice beyond academia.

These career shifts have been moments of renewal and challenge. In some ways I think I unconsciously help bring about the conditions for these changes, even when they are external. There is a part of me that revels in the frisson of being faced with a new context, new learning opportunities, new concepts; I get real satisfaction from encountering, testing and mastering byzantine processes and systems of management.

In turn this sense of renewal helps to feed creativity. Looking back I can see that each refreshing of my career has sparked renewed activity in other areas of my life, be it in photography, writing or the development of new skills or abilities. It is as though the energy of the neural rewiring and cognitive stretch a new job prompts overflows, like a downpour after a drought, into forgotten gullies and new rills. I can feel it even now. It’s the sense of an old engine slowly beginning to strain into movement after being oiled.

In the past I haven’t really thought about this creativity at the previous turning points in my work, but I think there is benefit in doing so now. I have no intention of attempting to direct the energy artificially into concreted culverts: it has to find its own course. But it will be interesting to more consciously track and reflect on what happens.