Beginner’s Guide To Creative Intelligence Lesson #4: Living With Dandelions

You want to make something, something that has beauty and truth in it. Let us call it… a flower.  

You can see it clear in your mind’s eye — let us say: white petals, very subtly tinged with pink and a round circle, yellow as the sun, at its heart.  

The petals fan out from the golden circle in perfect symmetry. Yes, it’s lovely.  Lovely.  You can’t wait to bring it into being.  

Off you go to work, full of gusto. And you work hard.  And something emerges.  But it is not what you imagined.  It is more weed than  flower. 

How has this happened?  Surely you could have done better than this awful, obvious, no-good, garish intruder? How could you have got it so absolutely wrong?

The thing makes you feel queasy just to look at it.  

But you can’t stop looking.

It looks back at you.


It IS awful and obvious and no-good etc. etc.  But maybe you can see a way it might be improved?   With a touch more white here? A smoothing of the petals there.

Maybe it might be worth…  well, maybe you just might try again.  

So you set to it.  You put in many more hours of concentrated work.  And this time you get:









Aaaargh!  You groan and walk away.  What a fool you were to ever think you could create anything – an egocentric, deluded, untalented worm who has no right to be even looking at flowers, never mind trying to actually make one.

They are so far from what you wanted to create, these dandelions.  You should rip them  from the earth and dance on them, grind them to pulp and start again.

But you don’t.

Somehow, sometime – a minute, or an hour, or a day or a week later – you find yourself back at them again. Doing what Samuel Beckett said is the only thing we can do, having failed: try again, fail better.

More effort, more concentration, more hope… 

And then, one moment, when you have given up thinking about it, when you’re lost in concentration or, often, off doing something else: it is given.


Not quite symmetrical, no.  

Not as perfect as the vision you once held in your head.

But a flower.  

Yes, most definitely a flower.


Link of the Day: Nice article on creative expression by Sean Platt (Writer Dad) at Zen Habits.