“When we face our conflicts, invite our imagination to interact with them, and then give them up to the great space of Creativity itself, new ideas and insights burst forward unexpectedly.” – Diane Musho Hamilton
For some of us, conflict and creativity don’t have anything in common from the first look. Indeed, if we have just had an unpleasant argument with a partner or a friend, the last thing that might come to mind is to be creative. And yet, I’d like to demonstrate how it is actually possible and where it can lead using a couple of my recent real-life examples.
A birthday girl and a daisy
It was a time when one of my friend’s birthday was approaching. I presented her with a few small gifts and I was still planning to bring her a bunch of flowers the next day. When I gave her a heads-up that one more present was waiting for her, her answer via a text message was, “No more gifts for my birthday”. She did not want it, saying that those other gifts were already too much. Someone else in my place could have been relieved by her answer since there would be no need to spend time and money on flowers. Right? Well, that phrase had actually a “cold shower” effect on me. I was hurt. I was disappointed. I was confused. I really wanted to do one more thing for my friend, but I also wanted to respect her preferences. I chose the latter. However, my feelings were not positive and they did not leave me. That is why I started wondering what I could do to feel better about that situation.
My reflections on the situation started when I was hiking in the woods. At that time, I realized that I wanted to make a “permanent flower” and keep it with me as a material object, a souvenir. It was to remind me about her friendship which I cherished a lot. I first found a wooden stick that I intended to use as a flower stem. Then I saw an oak gall that I could use as a flower head for a daisy. When I returned to the office, I used a yellow highlighter for the oak gall to add color to it. I cut the daisy’s petals from a paper and glued the oak gall to the white paper petals. I taped it to the stem from behind, and placed the assembled daisy on a table in the main conference room. Finally I took a picture of it. Even today, the cheerful and colorful flower and its picture serve me as a beautiful reminder about our strong friendship. This handmade flower and photo is how I treasure our friendship. A little thought, effort and perseverance can actually turn in a gift of creativity, art therapy, and better self-awareness. This experience helped me to restore my emotional balance and my internal peace without making any negative impact on the birthday girl.
Invitation to the event and comics
Earlier this month, I had a lively and humorous text exchange with one of my friends. At the end of that exchange, I extended him an invitation to join an event I really enjoy attending. I thought he might be interested in it as well. He thanked me, but politely declined my invitation. He stated a couple of assumptions about the event as reasons for not joining me. I rushed to address those assumptions. I clarified how things actually were at those events. What I got as a response from him was, “You are putting pressure on me” and I instantly texted back, “No problem”. I actually had a couple of problems with what he told me. The first one was his statement written in “You” language. The second problem was I experienced some sort of emotional injury due to his response, after extending to him what I thought was a sincere and a wholehearted invitation. If the degree of my emotional injury was higher, I’d let him know and I’d talk to him about it. However, this was not the case. My internal response was not something huge. On the other hand, it was not something very minor that I could easily forget in 5 minutes. Therefore, inspired by one of Diane Musho Hamilton’s stories in her book “Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution”, I felt a strong urge to do something different about this situation. I wanted to solve this rather intrapersonal conflict in a new and creative way. That is how I came up with my first comics! In looking back, it was so useful and fun to work through my emotions and discover a new way to express myself. The best thing was that I had realized how lucky I was to have this opportunity to experience, reflect and play with. I am happy I did not have to involve my friend in this. I do not feel upset with his phrase anymore. Furthermore, I created my first comics. Finally, I included this story, as well as the first story, hoping to encourage you to be creative while resolving your conflicts.