Six Reasons Why Nothing Is the Key to Creativity from Peter Himmelman

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Peter Himmelman knows creativity. The multi-talented Grammy and Emmy nominated singer-songwriter and composer has made fostering creativity his business as the founder of Big Muse, a company on a mission to help others tap into their inspiration and potential. In his 2013 CIW Edison Talk, Himmelman shares why Nothing is the key to everything and how deepening relationships can conquer the enemy of creativity. An enemy called Marv.

1. Your fear has a name and that name is Marv.

I’ve always had this fearful voice–maybe you’ve had it too. I started to study it. I gave him a name. His name is Marv. Notice right away there are no fangs, no talons. He’s just afraid that if we go out there and fail, we will be ashamed. And if we are ashamed, we’ll be abandoned.

2. Creativity happens when Marv isn’t there.

My dad was dying of stage four lymphoma. And I knew it was going to be the last Father’s Day of his life. I came downstairs and I kinda started strumming these little chords and suddenly, Nothing appeared again. And it was amazing. In the Nothing, Marv had completely departed and this whole song came into my arms. It was a song about how much I love my dad.”

3. And Nothing really matters.

That space of Nothing, when we are engaged in wonder and joy, that space of emptiness where Marv departs, it allows us to divorce ourselves from our assumptions about our limitations about the limitations of others, our connection to the status quo. It’s amazing what Nothing can do.”

4. Poetry makes Nothing happen. And that’s amazing.

The English poet W.H. Auden said, ‘Poetry makes nothing happen.’ Of course, poetry, or if you like, poetic acts such as kindness and gratitude and mercy, even heroism–what can they really do against warring governments and tyranny? But poetry makes Nothing happen. That’s something else completely.

5. Our relationships provide us with Nothing.

There is nothing more important that you can do with your creative capacity than deepen and sanctify the relationships that you have with the people closest to you.”

6. And that’s the key to everything.

When you do that, Marv is relaxed. He gives us space. He gives us Nothing. And from within that Nothing, we can create everything.”

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