Drift Time


Recently I listened to an interview on CBC with musician, artist and poet Patti Smith. She spoke about the importance of what she called ‘drift time’ to the creative process. Patti defined drift time as a vast, quiet space that we drop into when we allow ourselves to daydream. Not going over our to do lists, not ruminating on what we haven’t got done yet, not projecting into the future and planning, but just letting our thoughts run amuck and drift about in some sort of creative playground.

I don’t know about you, but in recent years I have noticed an increasing challenge with just allowing my mind to drift. It seems that as my attention is being called to absorb more and more information, flowing to us at an alarming rate, I’m having to work harder at giving my mind that wonderful drift space from which to create. It now seems that finding ways to connect to this drift time has to be a part of my creative practice…a type of ‘making space within’.

Not that many years ago things were much different for me….before iPhones and Facebook. I spent more time in quiet contemplation and wrote more in my journal. I often just sat somewhere and let my mind go….watching birds, or waves crashing on the shoreline. It was an easy addition to my day, and there seemed to be more time for it somehow.

I realize that the amount of time in a day hasn’t changed…we all still have the same 24 hours. But it’s me that has changedI’ve become less able to easily access that part of my brain that just floats and plays. I’m often aware of this low grade feeling that I should be doing something, looking at something or checking something. It’s a strange, new, and powerful impulse that has taken hold due to my now necessary relationship with technology.

This awareness of my new relationship to time makes me feel a little sad for what I’ve lost along the way….but I realize there is also opportunity here. An opportunity in this fast-paced information age to self-reflect, to see how I can give back to myself that which most supports my creative life.

In fact some of the greatest creative thinkers of our time understood this need for letting our imagination flow, drifting about in free association and play. Albert Einstein was very much an advocate of daydreaming and claimed that his ‘thought experiments’ led to the development of some of his most important works.

I believe we are coming to a time where we are finding more value in cultivating our creative mind-space. We know it’s important to preserve and nurture…that it has a deep purpose in our lives and our ability to create and innovate.

Sometimes it takes a little contrast to reveal to us the true value of something. Perhaps my challenge with staying present with myself, and open to inspiration, has shown me how very necessary it is and brought me to a place where I now make time for taking time. Drift time….

Is drift time important in your life? Your creative work? In my next post I’ll share some strategies that help me create that space in my life, and tell you about how I’m also helping others to do the same.