Today’s topic, ladies and gentlemen, is creativity. I am currently reading a terrific book about this subject, so of course it is on my mind daily.
I had always thought of the word solely as it applies to the artistic world, but while (also currently) reading a biography of Einstein, I’ve expanded my view. Here’s a broader definition that is more Einstein-y:
Creativity is tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.
Einstein certainly was able to look at the world freshly, seeing possible realities other great thinkers could not comprehend.
And there are myriad creation stories explaining beginnings; Hawaiians have the epic Kumulipo. In fact, doesn’t every tribe or group or culture or even club have one? “This is how we started . . .”
On a much simpler scale, we can arrange pre-existing objects to create something brand new every day.
But I’ve also come to think of creativity as what’s happening around us and inside of us every second of every day without our effort or knowledge: change. Each moment is brand new, emerging, blossoming. Things have never come together in the exact same way as they are now . . . and now . . . and now, and they never will again. In fact, all we actually have is this moment . . . But I can’t swerve there right now: I’ll stick with just creativity tonight.
I certainly know that when I am in the process of creating, as in writing – or rather as in allowing a story to be written – I feel extremely good and excited and vibrant. My body even trembles when I’m way deep into things. Even when I merely cook or bake or garden, which I think of as simple forms of creatively, I get jazzed; I feel authentic. It’s quite powerful. And watching a live dance or music performance or theater production of other people’s creative expressions, well, it’s wonderful. Joyful. And deep: there are some pieces of music that cause me to weep each time I hear them.
What a pleasant way to spend an evening: hashing out an idea. Not momentous like Einstein’s “thought experiments” but exploring ideas and concepts is pleasurable all the same. I start somewhere and it leads here and there, the threads of connectivity snaking everywhere. Cool.
One last fun detail about creativity: I get to live in a place that is daily, obviously, and vigorously creating itself – the amazing Island of Hawaii!
Today’s takeaway: today while I sat in my car in the library parking lot finishing a smoothie I had just purchased, a car pulled in next to mine, and I saw that the driver was drinking a smoothie from the same shop, and I blurted out, “Hey!” The man startled, but when he saw that I was toasting him with my similar smoothie cup, he laughed, and then began to tell me how much he liked that store over all the other smoothie places he regularly visits as he works around the island. He said it was the best smoothie shop for so many reasons, emphasizing how much he enjoyed going there. Then, ridiculously, I said “Yeah, but the parking lot is a nightmare.” Then a moment later, I continued, “I can’t believe I just said such a negative thing when you were saying such positive things.” He laughed again and immediately replied, “If you’re talking to strangers, you’re doing the right thing.” What a nice guy, and I bet he’s right. If we always talked to strangers, maybe we’d blur all the us/them lines.
Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: When and where were you happiest?
Looking for an “est” of anything does not sit well with me: it feels so limiting. I’d rather have quantity than quality! But I can clearly remember one extremely happy moment decades ago when I received a congratulations letter for a prestigious scholarship that included a travel grant. After reading the first line, I clutched the letter to my heart and shouted, “I’m going to Paris!” Man o man, it still feels awesome!