Finding your Creative Lazarus Pit
Issue 63: My pilgrimage to New York City for creative rejuvenation
Mecca is one of the most sacred cities in Saudi Arabia for Muslims. It’s where the annual Hajj takes place—the pilgrimage to the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad. Hajj, which means "to attend a journey," is a pilgrimage to the Kaaba, the "House of God". The concept of a pilgrimage originates from religious practices and there are a lot of analogous inspirations in our everyday life, especially for creatives. In the world of DC Comics, Ra's al Ghul has the Lazarus Pit; a natural phenomenon that possesses restorative properties that can instantly heal injuries. It's a physical place where the infamous Batman villain goes to renew his life—the fountain of youth. My Lazarus Pit is New York City.
I’m writing this late issue on the plane back from my creative pilgrimage. Before the pandemic, I’d go to New York every few months to recharge my creative batteries. Creative people need time to be bored, think, and explore to come up with new ideas. Work will wear that out and slowly chip away. It erodes over time. You need to make sure it doesn't disappear to avoid burnout. As much as I love what I'm doing for work, I took a few days off to go back to the city that demanded the best version of myself.
New York was the place where creative awakening happened to me. A decade ago, I was living in Seattle looking for a change. After living in Europe for nearly a year, I felt complacent in Seattle. At the time, I blamed Seattle for not offering enough, but it was me that was looking for a change within myself. That December, I booked a one-way flight with a bag full of clothes and my cat. We moved to Brooklyn; the place we’d call home for five years.
The city transformed my creative outlook and output on life. I was running my product studio as I worked out of WeWork Labs in Houston and Varick. I put myself in spaces where it was full of people who expected the best out of me. New York is an equalizer. Whether you're a millionaire or a broke college student, you all take the subway. In New York City, you're nobody but also a part of everybody. Capital in New York is measured by what you do.
Relaxing and recharging are not mutually exclusive. Your creative batteries require a different recharge than what your body might. I’m reminded that my legs are not in New York shape after living in Southern California. Though my body aches, my creative soul has found a second life. I’m ready to rock again.
What is your Creative Lazarus Pit? It might not be New York City but a place in the woods where you can be alone with nature. It can be Santa Fe, New Mexico; a place that attracts many painters because of its beautiful lighting and landscapes. If you haven't found your pit for creative rejuvination, I hope you find it. If you've found it, go back as soon as you can.