Uncover the bathymetry of your inspiration and open yourself to riding big waves of creativity with a few minutes of reflection and self-mapping.
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.Ralph Waldo Emerson
My students and I did a profoundly powerful exercise in Monday’s Sketchbook Entrepreneur Masterclass, and the work was so healing for us, I wanted to share it with you.
To Understand Waves of Creativity, Let’s Consider (Regular) Waves
First, let’s set the stage by watching a couple of very short videos. The first one (3 mins) will take you on a meditative ride of Beauty. Just let yourself sink into it. As you are taking it in, notice how the waves break on the shore and what is going on under the surf.
Next, let’s learn what may be a new word for you (I just discovered this word a couple of weeks ago myself): Bathymetry. It’s pronounced BAH THIM A TREE. Bathymetry is the topography of the seabed.
Now, take about one minute to watch this next video that depicts the rather unique and compelling bathymetry of the area just off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal. The canyon beneath the shoreline causes the giant waves because there isn’t any drag on the wave as it approaches the shore.
Applying the Metaphor
Our times of strife, pain, grief, challenge, and trauma—the distant storms of us, the canyons—can be what creates our biggest waves of discovery, creativity, new thinking, changed behavior, and impact.
All of our experiences, struggles, triumphs, and celebratory moments have contributed to the rich sediment of the ocean floor of us. We tend to want to lock that away. Be careful not to stir any of that up. Consider it best hidden.
I think there is a place for befriending those canyons, layers, and sediment. Mining it. Understanding how to exist side by side. And then leverage it for making the biggest waves of who we truly are. There are clues in those layers, storms, canyons. Hints. Divine direction.
These are the various elements that contribute to our waves of creativity, our waves of “us.”
Exercise: Making a Bathymetry of You in 3 Steps
You’ll need the following materials: a pencil or pen, a couple of pages of notebook or copier paper, some construction paper, scissors, and glue.
- Put on some music that you love that will help relax you and put you in a meditative state.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes. We are going on a stream-of-consciousness adventure of thinking and writing about the times of your life, the people, the decisions you made, and the moments you experienced that have shaped the topography of who you are. What were the faraway or near storms? The canyons? The trenches? The moments of extraordinary fun, freedom, and delight? Capture the moments of joy, struggles, pain, and celebration that have contributed to the rich strata of your essential nature.
- Create a collage using pieces of construction paper that represent these various experiences. That is, create a Bathymetry of You. You may cut or rip the paper. Use your glue to place the pieces down onto the notebook or copier paper. Don’t rush through this. Simply relax into it. There is no way to do this incorrectly. This work is yours alone.
Here is the piece I made with painted collage paper:
Now, take a few minutes and write about the topography of your seabed. What came up for you as you did your collage? What insights did you glean?
The ocean floor is rich with vital, life-giving nutrients as marine organisms are at the base of the global food chain. Similarly, what constitutes the ocean floor of us is rich beyond measure and it holds clues.
We can become alchemists and transmute the worst times of our lives into our most joyful, life-sustaining moments by gathering the energy of our canyons into the biggest waves of creativity.
Waves that heal us and others with an indelible reach that shapes shorelines for eternity.