Barnet Bain talks melodically and joyfully, as if he were the close and personal friend of the Dalai Lama. (We wouldn’t put it past him.) But instead of being draped in a monk’s robe, Barnet is an inspiring documentary and movie producer as well as an aptly titled creativity expert. Bain is an explorer of life and an insight master, writing nuggets like, “Creativity is not born in the head. It is not even of this world.”
Bain’s wise reflections are compiled in The Book of Doing and Being. This book is one of those non-fiction treats that asks you to do more than move your eyes from word to word.
If you’re seeking a little more creative energy or need to get out of a rut, start the doing by buying the book and then do the exercises to become one heck of a human being.
You believe that there is no such thing as an uncreative act. Why do people feel that creativity is only for the chosen few?
It’s unfortunate. I think it’s hazardous. In some ways, it’s critical to begin to shift that perception that creativity is the special domain or privilege of a few people.
Is the creativity in your life expanding or contracting?
When I was a really small boy, I knew I was creative, although I didn’t think of it in those terms. I delighted in being in relationship to everything. I didn’t think twice of throwing a snowball or rolling down a hill. When I got older, I started to think that when I painted a tree, it should be green. I began to lose my creative freedoms. I began to be conditioned to what is expected. I lost the connection with it. Most of my life I was very uncreative. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-30s that I started to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Your exercises are very encouraging. We got the sense of “You can do it!”
I would never have dreamed about writing anything. I am just finishing up directing a movie. I never dreamed I could. You can rewire your whole sense of yourself.
You draw from Greek mythology, etymology, literature and alternative medicine. You seem to have a love of interests!
It looks like a lot of different interests, but they get plucked from the same deck! I experience life that way. I used to think that they are all very different gifts and perspectives. Now I know there is only creativity. Even to be numb to that is a creative act.
If we have been numb, how can we now access our creative selves?
Creativity lives as a somatic experience. As a feeling state. The head does the labour. It puts the paint onto the canvas. The impulse doesn’t come from the head. The heart and head aren’t even connected. We connect them. Creativity helps you meet the challenges of the way we hold life. We start to train our neuromapping. We broaden our imagination.
Some of your exercises show how paradoxical the creative process can be.
One of the reasons the book mattered to me is because life is so stressful now. It is also increasingly uncertain. The most creative people I know have made friends with uncertainty. You begin to develop a relationship with uncertainty. Things are not either/or. They can be and/and.
So we really can have our cake and eat it too?
The act of opening up creatively teaches us how to push back the lines, rather than colouring inside the lines. We aren’t leading a hand me down life. When your whole life is considered as a creative act, people don’t get triggered as much. The world rises to meet us at this point.
We have to admit, some of your exercises remind us of meditation. Is meditation a part of your life?
I don’t really do meditation. I do lots of contemplation. I have lots of quiet time. I try to be very aware of what I am thinking and what I am feeling. Lots of what I’m thinking isn’t original. It’s a hand-me-down of what I have heard.
It does sound creative to us. You ask your reader to step out of the role of reader and participate. Some of them ask to start with four breaths, or even one asks for 33 seconds!
Who are we if we can’t take 33 seconds for ourselves? (laughs)
Do you keep asking yourself these same questions?
Absolutely. They look like the same questions, but the answers get deeper and deeper. They are gifts that keep on giving. They are not time bound. They are like watering a plant that has not identified with time.
We were intrigued by the idea of the five creative talents and one being leaving. This is a tough one!
Picasso said that creativity is, first of all, an act of destruction. You can’t move on to some virgin territory until you are willing to give up where you have been — if not to leave behind, then to expand beyond.
We could get on board with expanding and surpassing our own expectations! Bain writes: “Every gift that has ever been is not the result of a linear progression.” To zigzag off the beaten path, consider this book the first step.