There’s the matter of joy that arises from creating something each day. At least this is something my friends group and I have noticed and encouraged over the past several years. Jonathan enjoys tweaking retail displays at his job. Andrew dips into his acrylic paints to interpret landscapes onto canvas. Parker likes to experiment with ethnic foods in his kitchen. I like to attempt writing something every day. It’s almost as if creativity is an addictive drug.
I’m guessing that everyone has the creativity itch to some degree. We like giving things a try and being surprised at what we’re capable of doing. It’s as if we’re trying to break the mold of conformity and peek our vision towards the extraordinary.
Most working people work in companies that are heirarchical in nature–legal pyramid schemes of a sort. Despite “mission statement” claims to the contrary, business structures designate the lion’s share of creativity to certain departments. All of a company’s wisdom, foresight, and inventiveness are designed to flow down from the top echilon executives–trickle down creativity. In most cases, exceptional persistence and aggressiveness are required to climb the levels of the pyramid to make a meaningful corporate difference. One reason why so many people go it alone and become solo entrepreneurs, is to get out of the egotism race so they can develop their own creative ideas.
As I reflect back on my former work in media, it seemed as if it was the easiest job in the world. Every radio station I worked for encouraged the art of ad libbing. Serendipity was a resource we dipped into whenever possible. Whether behind the mic or composing advertising copy, the words seemed to flow from out of nowhere. In the case of newsroom work, although the writing was a job, we had to write something whether or not we felt inspired to do so. The only way to complete a story ahead of the hourly deadline was to go ahead and write it up then submit it to the news director on time. Anyone who was unwilling to write was soon out of work. My habit to write every day continued after my retirement. I don’t feel right if I don’t write.
I’m careful not to get enmeshed within a particular niche. Being trapped in any particular “genre” makes me feel suffocated and stifles the creative spark. Although many of my “experiments” are unloved by others, I continue to do them because they are screaming for expression. If I get caught in situations that require “coloring in between the lines”, I have difficulty being creative. At the risk of being accused of being a dilettante, I give my curiosity permission to forge ahead anyway. I’d rather be a dilettante than an incurious pawn or place keeper.
We all have ideas floating around inside of our minds. Our creativity is incubated before it is crafted into a painting, a photograph, a song, something to read, something to eat, or whatever else. The process of creating allows the idea to hatch into reality and actual substance. There is a satisfying beauty in doing this.
I’ve long believed that we are happiest when we’re being productive. We especially enjoy creative tasks that are in the “involvement zone”. The mental space when the work is not too difficult and not too easy–the middle place where we have “Zen moments”. It seems most true when the work requires a fair amount of both brainy thought and soulful creativity. A reasonable amount of freedom and wiggle room are important catalysts in creative efforts.
As is the case with meditation, there is no hard set of rules to follow regarding creativity. Whether one engages in contemplative meditation or in creative activity, the common factors are freedom of thought and observation. At least this is what I’ve discovered. Meditation and creativity both make me feel more mellow and make it easier to maintain a satisfying flow in harmony with life. There is just enough challenge to spark the imagination so as to enable enjoyable, creative living.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes NASA astronaut, engineer, and physician, Mae Jemison. “The difference between science and the arts is not that they are different sides of the same coin even, or even different parts of the same continuum, but rather, they are manifestations of the same thing. The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity.”