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The Infinite Gap – disappointment and creativity

The Infinite Gap – disappointment and creativity

I have been unpicking this thing called disappointment lately as it hounds me, frequently flattening my enthusiasm and energy. To a certain degree, I think we learn how to be disappointed as children – I still see my mum’s disappointment with her work life and whilst my dad doesn’t voice his, I still see it somehow. However I have mastered the art of disappointment myself and put much of this ability down to my abundantly, creative mind.

I appreciate that sound ok but bear with me on this…

In recent years I have realised that most of our personal unhappiness is due to noticing and focusing on the gap between what we want our lives to look life and what we perceive to be the “reality”. As well as focusing on this “lack” our stress levels rocket as we strive to work to bridge this gap – working to afford the new car or sofa or the beach holiday we desperately need because we are working so hard!

Problem is, the gap I can see is infinite – the future possibilities, dreams and desires stretch into a never ending space. My wonderful creative, expansive, optimistic mind thinks anything is possible! I can dream of all sorts of possibilities, metaphorically and literally! I truly believe that is someone is passionate about and works towards their desires, they will find a way to achieve it, whether they want to be an MP (!) or a successful writer. Coupled with this, I can usually visualise the pathway needed to achieve it – the “how”.

So when I have big ideas, which others might perceive as grandiose or whacky to me they really aren’t. As a coach, when I hear someone’s dreams, I truly believe that it could be achieved. If you are a mental health professional, you may be reading this thinking “grandiose” or “delusional thinking” or some other clinical labelling and please know that I hear you. However I have developed the ability to step away and critically appraise my ideas and the ideas of others, without squashing the delicate butterfly which is trying to emerge. (Carson 2011 would call this one of the protective mechanisms which prevent full on madness!)

This ability to vision possibilities is a great gift and is an expression of my creative mind but also seems to be the root of my persistent disappointment. However much I work to close the “gap” from my end, the practical “reality” end of gaining skills, experience, opportunities and appreciating how much I have achieved or own, it is not possible to close the other end – infinity cannot be bridged.

Perhaps this is the source of the “madness” that sometimes curses creative people as they will never be able to paint enough, write enough, create enough, because creativity doesn’t run out – its infinite. Unless we understand this, perhaps will we always be disappointed? (Do look at this blog on the myths about madness and creativity).

I don’t know the answer or solution to this and of course the only thing is perhaps to develop greater wisdom about ourselves, change what we can and accept what we can’t change, rather than working ourselves into an early grave, or struggle with eternal disappointment.

Carson S (2011) Creativity and Psychopathology: A Shared Vulnerability Model Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2011 56 (3) p144-153


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