The trope of the starving artist might seem to some to be about money, which most artists have little of. I think of it more as the common condition of artists lost in creative endeavor and forgetting to eat. Sometimes a creative jag interrupts sleep, and more than once time got away from me while painting, and I missed an appointment. When in creative, or right, brain we have no sense of time, cannot talk or hear. We forget every day problems and are focused on the creative problem that saps our attention. If balanced between frustration and boredom in that perfect trajectory upwards, sometimes called flow, we feel both excited and peaceful: fully alive and yet less ourselves. We feel connected to some force that is driving us forward like a train ride in a fascinating new country, or even a rocket ship to a new planet. Our bodily needs take back seat, until they eventually scream out for attention and we reluctantly move away from the brush or the guitar or the keyboard. People use drugs and alcohol to ease pain or enhance the senses, as well as a hideaway from difficult problems. But the creative state works just as well with no addiction or hangover side effects. I think in early times or less complicated societies, the creative state was far more accepted and universal, but today’s world generally does not support it. From the time we were two, and dissuaded from stopping to collect beautiful rocks, sticks and perhaps even cigarette butts, while our caretaker urged us on to the park to play, we understood we had to try to stick with the program: paying attention to cultural norms like time and appearance. For our own good, we were told, so one could grow up and be independent, and take care of ourselves with a good job. Teachers might have punished us for daydreaming. A few kids learned to compartmentalize the happy experience and find times when it was allowed: walking home from school, long drives in the car, the hours in our bedroom waiting to fall asleep. Some just gave up and took the label of “lazy” “unfocused”. Certain biographies point out that many of our famous geniuses like Einstein or Steve Jobs gave into their attraction for the creative state of mind but were criticized early in life. We can re-inhabit our right brains with a positive environment and permission from our “civilized” brain, which does not come easy. So many messages about wasting time, not being productive, worry about failure and fear keep people from taking up regular residence in creative play, which is really a kind of work. Some of the most successful businesses today have found a secret: encouraging creative time actually earns them more money. Instead of monitoring their employees, keeping them doing tasks to stay busy, they find that giving workers time to think and dream and experiment is good for business. They even set up rooms with band equipment, exercise balls, and even massage rooms to encourage them. If you want to open up your creative side you simply have to push away left brain (sensible, “normal”, productive) thoughts. If you plan the right vacation, without too many activities, it might get things started. But you don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t even need equipment. Just allow space and time to do nothing. Before long you will have an irresistible urge to begin a new project, or learn a skill to help you create. Then, if you keep the left, judgment brain away long enough the passion will grab you and you too will forget to eat dinner.