Creativity Lessons from the Bike (cont’d)

We were off to a dim sum brunch in Falls Church. Mark’s Duck House is not beautiful, but it has a great dim sum.

It was clouded over when we left, but the chance of rain was small enough for us to take the motorcycles. About two miles from the house, the first drops hit. I never understood people who say it’s romantic to walk in the rain. Your clothes stick to you and you look like an unloved in the rain

More important, in the first 15 minutes of a rainstorm, the oil and gas trapped in the nooks and crannies of the road float on top of the water, making driving anything less safe. Driving in the rain requires different braking and steering. I was hoping for a near miss, but the rain picked up. Enough to get the front of my legs wet.

You get wet in odd ways on a bike. The part I like the least comes from the helmet. It’s round, so the water heads downhill, and everything on the front drips into your lap. All the water that accumulates on the gas tank slides toward your lap, too. To put it clearly, your crotch gets soaked first. This does not make a good impression in polite company.

The Rolling Stones song lyric goes “You can’t always get what you want; but if you try sometimes, you might get what you need.” No one needs a wet crotch from riding a motorcycle. But it did make me think about the things we get and what we do with them.

Often, when something doesn’t go the way we thought, we shrug and say, “It wasn’t meant to be,” as if lack of trying can successfully be transfered to a giant Franklin Planner in the sky.

Artists try a technique, and perhaps it’s messy. Or doesn’t give the right result. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad technique, it just means that it didn’t head in the right direction. You can grumble and abandon it, or you can take a look at it and see what you can salvage from it. There might be a flicker of an idea or part of a technique, that, when combined with something else, will work well.

Real art is hard work. It’s not shortcuts and fast results, it’s trial and error, thought, and application. It helps to keep notes and figure out that when you are on the receiving end of results you weren’t expecting, what you have to do to steer through it and brake carefully.

Your reward is the sun breaking through the clouds, drying off and feeling the wind blow around you again.

Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer, and certified creativity coach. See her work at (c) Quinn McDonald, 2007. All rights reserved.