The Nature of Purposeful Accident

I’ve been working on a concept of creativity and I’d like to share these initial thoughts with you.

Image of fractal arrangement of bubbles for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash


I’ve been working on a concept of creativity and I’d like to share these initial thoughts with you.

In the last few years, I’ve been on the receiving end of an idea around the nature and function of creativity which I have called Purposeful Accident. It is a term I have borrowed from author and speaker, Larry Robertson, and it stands as an explanation for how favourable conditions materialise subsequent to purposeful detached engagement in daily work. For the creative person actively engaged and immersed in their work primarily for the joy they receive from it, there is an opportunity to experience Purposeful Accident. The work must not be done for ulterior motives, praise, reward or applause. It must be an end in and of itself.

I’ve no right to proclaim that Purposeful Accident is the ultimate answer to how creativity happens because the subject is too broad to define. Besides, there’s no getting to that fine a point for the principal reason that we never get to the point of anything. There is no ultimate answer to how anything happens, and we must accept that. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore, because the fun and enjoyment of life is in the exploration and indulgence of curiosity. So I’ve been busying myself in the investigation of this topic.

It would be accurate I think, to say that it has been, and continues to be, an exploration of the self, how the self expresses itself. That is what creativity is to me. Like the difficulty Stuart Brown has had defining play, creativity cannot be defined despite the well-meaning attempts by eminent psychologists to do so. Because, there’s no getting away with not being creative — we all are that.

However, most of us merely copy verbatim what has already been done. Without even recognising it, we plagiarise the ones we admire; family, friends, peers, famous people. Very few of us are original. Perhaps no one can be truly original, although someone like Kate Bush, for example, might challenge that assumption. I’m sure she has had influences, they’re just hard for an ordinary Joe soap to see.

“Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.” — Alan W. Watts, Philosopher

This world we live in/on is a mass complexity of resonant and dissonant frequencies jostling for position, pulsating and fractal in nature. All language and sound is a base level expression of this vibratory aspect of the self. Material things are vibrational things collapsed. Beyond the surface level reality of the physical world, this is how I see our interactions. And it’s not just human interactions — everything is interacting with everything else.

In this, there is no separation, just like the Buddhists and Hindus suggest. Like Indra’s Net, everything is an aspect of everything else, and for those of us who are hypnotised by the brightness of it all, there is no realisation. It is in that mode of mind that creativity happens without conscious intent; people become absorbed by, assimilated into, the purpose and creative desire of other people. Creativity, therefore, becomes unconscious.

This is the basis for the idea for which Purposeful Accident stands. We don’t need to force it, to make it happen by planning and the application of systems. The more we do this, the more rigid we make the process, the less spontaneous we become and less chance we have of realising Purposeful Accident. Purposeful Accident is the materialisation of everything we want without wanting it. It is life at its best without the past and the future. It is a right now materialisation of favourable conditions.

It’s what I’m working on verbalising. Stay tuned for more on Purposeful Accident.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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