Bringing about the end of a piece of work is as much a commitment as starting it. This commitment is about recognising what doesn’t work, or what we no longer want. To destroy a piece of your own creative work is to announce your commitment to your creative self, and your belief of the importance of what you bring into the world that didn’t exist in it before.
“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred… Unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
How does this work in terms of decluttering?
What I have seen in practice, is that the decision to abandon a dream , or a particular project, completely, does not necessarily mean the end of your creative life. Far from it. Bringing our conscious and unconscious resources to the sticking point and confronting our real incompetence is a moment where we challenge ourselves about our own drive. It’s a question of creative freedom, which includes the option to destroy or abandon our own creations. You may choose to let something go completely, or maybe keep a favourite fragment that acts as a ‘starter culture’ (to use a live yogurt metaphor!) for new life. Selling a piece of work or a tool may be one way to ‘destroy’ it – effectively it’s beyond your grasp now. Maybe it effectively means closing down an avenue entirely. A dead end, perhaps?
By all means use whatever symbolic translation you want in terms of souvenirs. One of my clients uses the Japanese concept of a ‘danuma buddha’ to establish continuity by defining, encapsulating and transferring the energy associated with a specific life phase or project through physical items of money. Other people I have met consider putting a particular tool or piece beyond use (which means destroying it entirely) makes its function sacred, fully respecting the original intention.
Some people unfortunately will still see every single potato print as part of a body of work that art historians will want to know about. It’s a challenging and long term piece of emotional work to recognise that not ‘every sperm is sacred’! By filling your home with every single piece you ever created, you eventually bring yourself to a place where creatively you’re limited to decorating egg cups because there’s no space for anything else.
The destruction of a piece of your own work obviously needs to be undertaken with great consideration and care. But the opening it creates for new growth, and the release from stagnation, is absolutely worth it. Sure, start small and experience a proof of concept for yourself. Don’t be afraid, when you’re ready, to take bigger mouthfuls of this cake. No one achieves success without experiencing failure on the way. That doesn’t mean those failures need to define your entire creative life.