In Steven Pressfield’s latest book, The Artist’s Journey, he explains how there are two levels to the universe: “The first level is the material world, the visible physical sphere in which you and I dwell.”
And then the second level: “…the invisible world, the plane of the as-yes-unmanifested, the sphere of pure potentiality.”
Pressfield writes that artists, filmmakers, dancers, and all creatives have one skill in common: They shuttle from Level #1 to Level #2 and back again.
“They enter the Second World and come back to the First with something that had never existed in the First World before.”
As human beings, we all have access to Level #2. We can transverse between the real and imaginary and let the latter influence the former. It’s a trick that not even the most powerful computer or piece of AI can do.
But in order to create, we need to work in both worlds. Too much time in the Second level leads to evaporating clouds of inspiration. It’s the ability to come back to the First level and actually make something that counts.
Monet dreamed of painting sunlight bouncing off the surface of the water and onto his lily pads. But in order to get there, he had to work with physical materials. He needed the tools of the ordinary world. He needed the right mix of paint, the proper brushes, and the technique necessary to paint what he saw in his mind’s eye.
Monet had to consistently travel back and forth between his imagination and the material world, over and over again, to create a masterpiece. As creatives looking to bring new solutions, new art, and new ways of thinking into the world, we must do the same.
Anyone can visit Level #2 and imagine. The art of creativity is in returning to ordinary world, ready to manifest what was found in the outer world of imagination.
Next time you feel blocked, bland, or lost in imagination, ask yourself: “Am I neglecting one of the Levels? Or am I getting lost in the journey between the two?”
Chances are, it’s one or the other.
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Insights and inspiration for this post come from Steven Pressfield’s book, The Artist’s Journey.