Thich Nhat Hanh shares in his book Peace Is Every Step about a memory from his childhood when his mother would bring him a cookie, and he would eat it with joy and in peace. "I did not think of the future, I did not regret the past," he writes. Eating the cookie was a truly serene moment for Hanh, and one he channels now as an adult when he eats.
After reading this, I've tried to think about an equivalent memory from childhood when I was so attuned to the present moment; a time when I so enjoyed what I was doing that I was freed up from worry. I realized that for me, these were moments of creative work.
Once, in high school, over a three-day weekend, I created a stop-motion animation film set to the song "Zero to Hero" from the Disney movie Hercules. No one told me to do it. There was no deadline I was trying to reach. I simply conjured the idea up in my head, set up the camera and figurines, and did it! This happened a lot when I was a kid, whether it was making comic books or the guide map to my made-up waterslide park or recording songs I had written. I would have surges of creativity initiated from within, when I just needed to make something and my mind would enter a sort of zen-zone, flowing and engrossed in the project.
As an adult, I often find it hard to enter into that zone. There are a lot more "grown-up" things like logic, deadlines and social obligations that need tending to. But remembering my childhood bursts of creativity helps me feel more motivated to get going on my projects. Hopefully, when I'm in the midst of a rewrite or drowning in books for research, I can channel the "cookie of my childhood" and find that place of joy and freedom once more.