Creativity for the Rest of Us

Becoming a Tracker

The verb “to track” is defined as: to follow and note the course or progress of. I’m a big advocate of tracking so let me explain what I mean and how it works.

At the base of your skull is a part of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). I am not a scientist so in very simplified terms, the RAS is a tracking system. It notices things. Ever wonder why when you get a new car, you suddenly see that same car everywhere? Or if you’re pregnant (or want to be), you seem to be surrounded by pregnant women? The RAS is responsible for this. We are biologically wired to see more of what we track or pay attention to.

The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention. – Julia Cameron

Rediscovering your creativity starts with tracking the many ways in which it is already present. Where were you curious today? In what challenging situations were you able to stay open? How were you able to just listen without planning a response in advance – either to yourself or someone else?

The signs are all around us but we have to be intentional about what we’re looking for. It may take some practice because for many of us this is new territory.

Tracking swings both ways. If you pay more attention to how you don’t measure up, you’ll get more of feeling less than. Sadly, most of the public attention is paid to what’s not working. “Ain’t it awful” is the chorus of the day. However, this can be remedied with an intentional shift in focus.

Practice
To build this muscle start with some things outside of yourself. Pick something, anything to track – the color blue, anything in the shape of a circle, helpful people, good news, a word or phrase, an object – and look for it everywhere you go. Track what you notice and what you see. Remember Harriet the Spy? Record your evidence.

3 Responses to “Becoming a Tracker”

  1. Little Brother says:

    I always watch for hawks where ever I go. I see them as I drive to work along interstate 280 in the morning, I have seen them while working in SF. When I see them it makes me feel as if my spirt can soar as high as them and see as far as they can see.

  2. jitendra mudhol says:

    I love this idea. Thank you for this posting. I realized that I use this concept (I ‘tracked’ my ‘tracking’) for two things:
    (a) To inspire myself and find my direction (my north star, so to speak).
    (b) To correct myself when I feel that I am making some mistake or get some feedback.

    Please keep writing to inspire us.

  3. cre8tif says:

    I got so worn down by listening to the news and getting sucked into negative tracking that I decided I needed to track hopeful things. I feel less overwhelmed and more energized to contribute to that which enlivens. Thanks for this.

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