The Dichotomy of Focus

As creatives, we’re tasked with the privilege of seeing our creative projects evolve in three basic stages: getting the initial idea, implementing the idea into our medium and then producing the finished work.

Along this path is the dichotomy of focus.

  • We must be open to change, but not get too distracted.
  • We embrace playfulness, yet need to be responsible.
  • We often create in solitude, but we need community and connection.
TodaysArt 2005 - Nederlands Dans Theater
Maurice via Compfight

The dichotomy of focus reminds me of ballet. As many of my acting gigs involved choreography, I wanted to learn the basics of movement, so I signed up for ballet classes.

The teacher would say seemingly incongruent instructions to help us learn the physical and mental demands of the artform.

Elongate. Tuck.

Push. Pull.

Relax. Tighten.

Such a dichotomy of terms that it seemed the teacher was schizophrenic, yet when she demonstrated we saw exactly what she meant.

What ballet taught me to do in all of my creative work was to enjoy several disciplines at once. As the term “focus” implies being intent on only one thing, it’s too narrow a word for our type of work.

I enjoy embracing the whole of the process rather than just a part.

How about you? How do you strike the balance?