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A personal note from Seymour Projects founder Melissa Unger
Seymour is named after my father. Since his death in September of 2000, I have wanted to create a meaningful project in his memory. He once said to me: “My greatest wish for you is that you find a job that you never need a vacation from.”
Seymour is that job.
As an only child, imagination and its outward extension, creativity, have always been very present in my own life. Both my parents continually provided me with opportunities to experience art of all disciplines. As an adult, I have always worked in creative fields. I think that I have always been a humanist, ever fascinated by people, their minds and how they engage with the world and make sense of their experience. As such I have been continually drawn to philosophical and psychological questioning; and yet it took me over 20 years to find the passion that changed my life. I finally found my way to it by quieting my rational mind and letting my subconscious lead for a change.
In September of 2004, while on a walk around Paris, a single sentence popped into my head: Peter never ate. Insistent, it kept coming back again and again and in an effort to dissipate it I put it to paper.
The three words called out to me from the page. The short sentence was like some sort of motor, of magnet; I touched my pen back to the paper and let it lead me over the course of a few months, sentence by sentence, until I had written enough sentences to cover over 60 pages.
Now, what’s interesting about this is not that I wrote over 60 pages; it’s how I wrote those pages. I wrote them unconsciously. Yes, I know…that’s impossible. So, obviously I wasn’t literally unconscious, but I wasn’t using what I consider my conscious mind to write. In other words, I had never written a book before. I didn’t have a plot or outline, characters sketched or any idea at all what I was going to write about. I would just get myself to a quiet place, read the last paragraph I had written and then just pick up where I had left off and keep writing until it felt natural to stop; sometimes it was an hour, sometimes it was 8 hours. It was a strange, invigorating and somewhat frightening experience.
I tried to explain the sensation to a friend, and the closest I came to expressing it correctly was by saying that it felt like I was driving in a car on a dark road with no idea where I was or where I was going, but I had the headlights on and could just see enough to stay on the road. I would look ahead into the little illuminated patch of ground and keep inching forward. My sense of time was completely altered when I was writing, a whole day could go by in what felt like an hour. Words gushed out of me like an open faucet.
The next day my friend emailed me a television interview of the French author Patrick Mondiano. When asked how he wrote, he described my experience verbatim. I knew in that instant that I had experienced ‘flow’. I had been fortunate enough to accidentally tap into what I now believe is an innate source of ineffable calm and clarity that exists in us all. From that new centered place came my creativity. That creativity bore my novel Gag, the SEYMOUR+ space and even the website that you are currently reading.
What is important to take away is that when I sat down to write that first day I wasn’t held back by fear or other typical blocks because I didn’t consider myself ‘an author’ nor did I particularly yearn to be – I had nothing to ‘prove’ or to ‘lose’, so the words just flowed out, untainted by my critical conscious mind. And that was the day that changed my life forever. Now that I could finally hear my own voice, my stress levels lowered and gave me some relief from my previously ever-present anxiety. The experience also opened the door to a decade-long period of metaphysical, philosophical, psychological, scientific inquiry and self-exploration that changed the course of my life for the better in innumerable ways.
So to those of you who feel something stirring within you, I hope to encourage you to express yourself creatively in a manner unhindered by any self-imposed or externally established boundaries or codes. I hope that by allowing yourself time for introspection and uninhibited creative expression that you will enjoy this direct link to your subconscious and that it will help guide you toward the true you that is buried underneath your unfounded fears and supposed limitations. With pen and paper as your tools, I invite you to explore your inner landscape. Take the time to ignite your inner spark. Scintilla animae as it’s called so poetically in Latin.
Unfortunately this amazing and unique spark that resides in you is hard to see if your eyes are always locked on the numbing glow of your computer screen. Now, to be very clear: I am not anti-technology, in fact I embrace it. All I am asking is that you take as much time to look inside yourself as you do outside yourself. Tap into your imagination, explore your subconscious and shout your soul through your fingertips.
What I felt writing those pages was the nearest to a state of grace that I have experienced in my lifetime and I wish that experience for everyone.
To learn more about Melissa’s professional background, please click here.