My kids have flown the coop. One is living in Boston and is about to enter a Doctoral program in Psychology and the other is a fresh-person at a small college about an hour east of LA. While we talk, text, IM and video chat nearly everyday, my apartment is at half-mast. Empty of the quotidian joy, laughter and trauma of having kids around.
Of late and because we finally have the time, my wife and I have been watching some of the best TV ever produced. We just finished a 15-hour German mini-series called "Heimat," a chronicle of a German family and a small village from 1919 to 1980. It was quite an amazing piece of work. Seeing how people lived through WWI, hyper-inflation, the Weimar, Nazism, American occupation (the village portrayed was in the American-zone, closer to Paris than to Berlin) and the economic miracle of the 1950s.
The film follows four generations of a single family--and the catalyst of much of the action is the act of leaving home. Leaving for economic opportunity, leaving for war, leaving to see the world. In the last hours of the epic, centuries-old homes are being dismantled for their furniture, their window-sashes and their doors. These artifacts of what's been left behind are suddenly very much in demand in a modern and rootless Germany. Homes which used to house many generations are now empty.
Leaving is an uncomfortable act. It involves stepping into the unknown, fear and loneliness. It's what many in advertising cannot do. So we cling to old jobs or old "creative" formulas to get us through the day.
Leaving, however, also inspires growth. Challenges are faced and overcome. New things are learned. New worlds are conquered.
Creativity demands leaving places where you're comfortable. But the best creativity is also obeisant to the anchor of where you've been.