Balthus, my dear friend,

Many years ago, I met an English writer in Cairo, one Mr. Blackwood, who had put forth a very nice hypothesis in one of his novels: he imagined that every night, at midnight, a tiny gap opened up between the day that was ending and the one about to begin, and that a very nimble and clever person who managed to slip into that gap would escape from time and find himself in a realm free of all the changes we are subject to. All the things we have lost are gathered there- Mitsou¹, for example... broken dolls from childhood, etc., etc.

– Rainer Maria Rilke,
"Letters to a Young Painter"

A quarter of what I read revolves around the creative process. Where things come from, how it works, and what it takes to improve at it. That passage remains one of my favorite metaphors about it.

Creativity has this connection with a sense of loss, both from the past and the future. It’s a combination of connecting only certain dots from your past and abandoning potential futures because you have to make choices in order to make something a reality. It’s courage permeated with a sense of grief. Those who are nimble enough to slip through the gap each night and come back learned long ago how to deal with that grief – those are the pros. Amateurs are forever stuck in delaying that grief for as long as possible. Stuck in the realm of possibilities.

He recommends to the young painter Balthus “not to disappear into it but only peer into it in your sleep”. It takes cleverness. And some courage along the way.

1 - Mitsou was Maria Rilke’s beloved cat that one day disappeared, causing much pain to the author