There is a part of me wondering how to explain to my sons about the creative stuff I do. It’s not like there’s a manual. Whether it’s playing the piano, writing, singing, or whatever else my hand finds to do, how do I explain that it’s only probably the underpinning stuff which makes it possible?
True, I’ve played piano long enough I should expect to be good at it or ready to give up. Practising makes for perfection but I also know there are people for whom no amount of diligent practice will bring virtuoso results. There are also those for whom the genius just appears to fall in their lap.
I don’t know if different underwear, for example, would suddenly improve my creative output. I know rumours that wearing certain undies ensures certain footballers have more confidence to go for goal. The improved strike rate associated with them becomes self fulfilling. Likewise those ladies who choose certain smalls for certain moods and moments; and outcomes. Do I write better melodies in a shirt or a polo? Does my choice of jeans matter?
What about my underlying mood or physical condition? Some of the greatest composers (or artists, sportsmen, politicians, warriors, kings etc) were depressive (or introverted, bipolar, dyslexic, left handed, obese, Arsenal fans, etc) and look how far it took them. That’s probably stretching cause and effect way too far but it helps knowing that someone with your affliction (not sure about Arsenal) did well anyway. The unanswered question is whether this “liability” had any effect at all, positive or negative.
So, how do I explain to my boys that I’ve found no miracle formula for being on form apart from putting in a bit of preparation, sleeping enough and not hitting the bottle too hard? Is that it? Or do I need to wear my pants outside my trousers to ensure I can play chess better, write a symphony and still be in time to save the girl?