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Disposable Worker Syndrome is Killing Us

On Release and Fallow Fields



Just about a year ago, I wrote a post about the dark side of creation--that time when we draw into ourselves to let things ferment. Harriet Wakelam, whose own experiences inspired my post, talks about it this way:

I have recently been through one of those 'life reinventions'.  Unlike the current 'sexy' portrayal of creativity the process was absorbing, consuming and sometimes dark and scary.  During the process  I switched off from my networks. One minute I was talking, the next I was disconnected. 

This is me--one minute I was talking and the next I disconnected. For months I was full of ideas and plans and then, like that, they switched off. I found that I had gone as far as I could go at that time in talking about careers and career re-invention and professional development. My blog posts dried up, I stayed off Twitter, my participation in LinkedIn groups dwindled and my Facebook updates have largely been about art-related topics. 

At first I thought it was a temporary thing, that I just needed to take a few weeks off from the connections. But the few weeks became a few months and I felt dry as a bone. I've also felt guilty for my silence here, but silence seemed preferable to writing from the dry, silent place. 

I've discovered, over time, that this is how my creativity works. Deeply productive and abundant periods of growth followed, inevitably, by long periods of fallowness. I cannot anticipate or control the times when the Muse is silent, any more than I can force the periods of creative abundance to occur. Each has its own season and I can only honor both periods, the yin and the yang of the creative process. 

As we enter 2013, instead of a New Year's resolution, I am going with a "Word of the Year"--a word that can guide my activities and my intentions. My word for this year is "Release."  I chose it because I turn 50 in September and as I move into a new phase of my life, it feels important to me to let go of the habits, thoughts, activities and connections that no longer serve me well. After almost 50 years, I need to make some space for new things in my life. 

One of the things I want to release is the judgement I place on myself for the fallow periods. I also want to release the pressure to always "produce" and the need to "say something, "when silence is really what's called for. Sometimes the most learning and growth takes place in the gaps. 

Here's hoping that in release, the fallow fields begin to produce again. . . 


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Good to hear your "voice." Your absence was noted. I'm glad you shared your feelings about the "fallow" period. I think that MANY people experience this and simply can't allow themselves to accept it. Too scary. Who am I kind of beliefs.
I know that with my work and presence on social media, I have been getting to the point where I think I will scream if I read on more article on leadership or "engagement." I'm craving authenticity - in any form.

Release is also one of my words for the new year.

Empty mind. Don't know mind. Allowing. Releasing.

I recall a friend's advice before I turned 50 - release as much as you can that isn't you.

May the gaps be rich for you in 2013.

in music, the spacing of silence (rests) is just as important as the notes.

Louise and Margaret--thank you so much for your kind words! Louise, I'm with you on the articles about "leadership," "engagement," etc. I think that if these things were really working, we wouldn't need so much cheerleading going on. I will say that I'm beginning to feel like a cranky Scrooge about this stuff, like we are pushing a drug onto people to get them to forget the fact that there are underlying problems the drugs are masking. . . We shall see. . .

Hi Michelle -- I too have experienced long periods of silence between creative outpourings. I always like to think of it as an "incubation" period. I'm silent but absorbing and making space for a new type of creation that better suits the person I am becoming.

Wishing you a lot of release in 2013 :-)


With you on this one. It's been a year since my course with you and often reflect on our conversations therein. Its healthy for someone who gives as much as you do to take some time to rejuvenate and delve inwards.
I hope you find time for walks in the mountains or on the beach, and for creative and family pursuits.
What you taught me was to keep an open heart and open mind re where we might re-emerge. Where ever it is I'm sure it'll be wonderful.
And if you seek some new inspiration 'down under' for your 50th year let me know!
Best wishes.

Erin, I like the idea of thinking of it as "incubation," although I find that I'm also impatient with the process, even when I try to picture it as a necessary part of the process. Probably more to the point, I suspect I have a mental time limit I put on these things. A little incubation is OK, but at some point, I begin to feel that I just need to get my act together. :-)

Robyn-thank you for the reminder to the physician to heal thyself. I probably need to take a little of my own medicine and use this as well as a way to learn more about how it feels to be in this place. I have been making more time for art and for engaging with family and friends and that helps. Just wanting it all to come together!

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