SAN JOSE, Calif. – Solstice has become my favorite winter holiday. I feel a visceral connection to the waning of the light this time of year and the intermittent flicker of creativity inside me.
I'll tell you a little bit about what that is like for me. I hope below you will share how you relate to your own creative fires.
I'm an English major. I tell people I earn a tiny piece of my electronic engineering degree every day doing my job as a reporter for EE Times where I meet the people who give us smartphones and supercomputers, ultrasound machines and stereo 3-D movies.
I joke that I don't have to be able to make anything work. I just write about the people who do.
Writing stories—and sometimes songs—is what fires me up. This very morning this column was writing itself in my head. It dragged me out of bed at 7:16 am so my fingers could clatter out its words on my ThinkPad.
Sometimes I think of it as weaving. Listening to the many voices on a topic--and the topics are fresh every day—then interleaving them in some way that feels balanced and authentic to create a tapestry of the creative competition in some corner of the electronics industry.
When the darkness comes as it did about a month ago, sliding in at six and five and four o'clock in the afternoon, it gets my attention. This year for some reason full on night at 5:30 pm looked especially black.
It has the same affect on me that it does on so many. I sometimes feel tired, a bit depressed, even fearful, as I walk my own particular journey toward death.
Those who celebrate the solstice remind me to appreciate the darkness, invite it, sit in it and let it surround me. They remind me to light a candle.
This is also the season of light. Across the street from me, a neighbor has festooned his palm tree with a twenty-foot high cape of white and purple lights. Sometimes we drive though the Willow Glen neighborhood known for its fiery residential displays of the secular Christmas.
I remind myself in the Christian tradition they talk about a star in the East. Buddha told his followers to be lamps unto themselves.
For me, sometimes that means a trip to my local café, an afternoon latte—whole milk, extra foam—and more clattering on my notebook about the story of some engineers' creativity. It means a little work in the evening on learning some new song of the season—there are so many—or writing one of my own.
My skills as an amateur musician and singer/songwriter are what they are. They are adequate to provide more than a little light and warmth for me and a small circle of friends.
I know many engineers have a special affinity for creativity. Maker Faire, a celebration that crosses all seasons, has tapped into the ethos of engineers who love to see how things are made, to tear things apart and to design them from scratch.
So, please, if you care to, tell me about how you relate to this season and how you connect with your creative light.