This week I learned about creativity. What I learned deepened my understanding of what we mean when we say creativity. I believe we fear it. And perhaps for good reason. It’s contained in a series of dichotomies: playful and disciplined; energetic and quiet; smart and naive; grounded and fantastical; humble and proud; extroverted and introverted.
When you are creative, you are valuable to society and at the same time a great danger: this last dichotomy may be why the authentically creative person needs the wisdom to choose when and to whom they might want to share their creativity.
Consider this: We all accept that children are creative by nature. We all accept that society attempts to kill this in us. We all accept that we should “try” to learn to be creative again as adults.
Creation is terrifying.
I am pretty sure that is why what passes for creativity for most of us will remain at the level of craft. Craft is noble. Craft is important. Craft is safe. Craft is stable. Craft is the discipline, quiet, grounded, humble side of creation.
Society needs playful, energetic, smart, fantastical, and proud as well. We need playful, energetic, smart, fantastical and proud. We need artist dates, daydreaming, tears streaming down our faces as we feel all the feelings after something we have made brings us pure unadulterated joy.
Feeling vulnerable yet?
Me too :)
Creativity can be truly terrifying when it’s unbalanced.
I think, sometimes, that humans, raised to be sage, responsible, realistic adults, hold onto the disciplined, quiet, grounded, humble tightly. Too tightly.
And then, either the playful, energetic, smart, fantastical and proud dies — or, perhaps more clearly, festers — and then, pressure cooker style, it comes out in unintended ways.
The solution? Fun, actually. Gently relearn the balance. Don’t worry so much about making something or forcing yourself to think something great. Just begin to safely, quietly, slowly, reintegrate. You don’t even have to tell anyone. They might just notice one day that you appear a bit more peaceful…
“Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives … most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity… [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” “Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of the book “Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention”
Allowing yourself to sit quietly in a puddle of meaning can be kinda hard to do as adults. We want to arrange, sort, classify, or alternately, run away immediately.
The key is to allow. For as long as you can tolerate. A sweet, fun, lovely way to trip this wire is to get into a conversation. A long, meandering, going nowhere conversation. Ideally, with an older relative — or conversely, a very young relative.
The idea is not to worry about a written journal as much as just having a conversation. About nothing, ideally. Lose yourself as much as you can. If you have a dear friend who is willing to do this with you, consider yourself blessed. Often young children clamor for this, and the occasional much older person has softened into this.
See what happens. If you are really skilled :) you can simply stare out a window for hours and let your mind wander where it will. That’s AP level. Some call it laziness, some boredom…I truly believe it’s the birthplace of creativity.
Go on a slow walk. Just go. Leave your phone off. Notice things like your feet on the ground and the sounds you hear, the feeling of the air on your face. Notice your fingers while you walk. Notice your toes.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Here’s one I can guarantee I most likely won’t do: play a sport this week. I hope I do it but it’s so far outside my comfort zone…
At the same time, research is compelling and also I know it works. Playing a sport is such a fun, easy way to remember your truly lovely playful, energetic side. Your full body is engaged. All the elements of creativity happen as you play sports. And it’s healthy. And…so many reasons.
6. POD Poem of the day (Maya Angelou: Caged Bird)
7. Podcast (Real Talk in Real Time — Jae Hermann)
8. Video (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Buckshot Lefonque (featuring Branford Marsalis)
9. Hero: Wynton Marsalis, Musician
Why? He was my hero when I was 16. I have kept my album Black Codes (from the underground)even though I can’t play it without a record player. The jacket is the reason why. His words have motivated me for, well, decades at this point, and continue to do so. They speak to the need to cultivate a life that honors creativity, that honors the dignity (in yourself and in others) necessary for a whole, creative life.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Creativity episode Thursday. I am 1blessed to have a conversation with anew colleague (?) friend (? <= I hope so) of mine, Jae Hermann.