Mess. That’s the biggest barrier to creativity.
Today I had several “free” hours, thanks to a late meeting. My midnight musings about my use of the precious time at home were interrupted several times by visions of piled laundry, of dusty carpets, sticky floors and cluttered countertops. And I can flip the problem and note that my creative time often is cut short by the need to stop early and clean up my own fabric, paper and yarn scraps from shared family space, like the dining room table.
This isn’t an unusual conundrum, I know. Creative people aren’t exactly known for their attention to housekeeping details.
But although my heart was in my Christmas cards and my holiday sewing projects, I felt blessed with that the time in an empty house. Even thought I wasn’t focused on the projects I wanted to tackle, I was focused on important jobs. Mopping the kitchen floor was neither fun nor fulfilling, but I knew it was important. I wondered if I could make it more creative through some combination of music and meditation, but I was not able to find an answer … yet.
I never did get to my creative projects today. But my family arrived home to a nicer, better-organized house. Is that enough? No. But it’s not bad, for today.
In the meantime, I want to think hard about ways to make my priorities more creative, and make creativity a priority.
I know someone who trims her Christmas tree all in white. It was beautiful, but cold. And it looks like it could have been created in a department store for nobody in particular.
I’m proud of the tree my family trimmed last night. We have store-bought ornaments, ornaments received as gifts from friends and family and lots and lots of ornaments that stemmed from a momentary inspiration. I like it because our funky little tree tells so much about our funky little family. Here are some examples. of our work (and play):
Joe’s purple origami strawberry, done in an after-school class.
Another Joe creation (he’s 10, by the way), a high-tech Lego Santa sleigh. He made this on the spur of the moment last night, after we decorated the tree.
Joe’s bookmark, along with his vampire Santa Claus (?).
My parents’ first Christmas away from home, they blew out eggshells and decorated with glue and glitter. Some 37 years later, only one brittle, chipped eggshell remains. This is my equivalent. I decorated these plain balls with paint pens one of my first Christmases on my own.
Our tree has character (Did I mention the Barrel O’Monkeys garland?) and personality. It doesn’t look professionally designed. But it’s all about us and our family value, creativity. What does it say about us? I don’t know. But I like it.
Today I went to the No-Coast Craft-O-Rama, one of the biggest, most innovative craft shows in the state.
I saw some great ideas, evidence of folks who think way outside the box. I like that.
But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about different ways of expressing creativity. Last week, I asked my kids how they liked to be creative. Knowing that my older son, Joe, enjoys some of the same creative outlets I do, such as drawing, music, writing stories, I asked my younger son to answer first. He thought a moment before he answered. I like to ski, he said. I like to play soccer, I like to climb trees. Oh, and I like to draw.
I love that.
I was writing a story recently about the closure of free, outdoor park skating rinks due to city budget cuts. A university kinesiology professor I interviewed said that while it was great that more kids are playing team sports, there’s a real loss in the dearth of unstructured, pickup games that used to require kids to make up the rules as they go along, that allowed them to resolve their own difficulties, to decide where to skate, when to shoot and to find their own style of play. Hockey isn’t my kind of creativity, but it’s hard to argue that anything that requires kids to think isn’t creative.
I look out my kitchen window and see Isaac perched in the branches of our birch or apple trees. I didn’t imagine those little trees as climbers, but I love the intense look on my son’s face as he contemplates which branch to climb next, how to place his feet and where to grasp for balance.
So, while I did enjoy the needlework, jewelry, the screenprinting and glasswork I saw today, I do want to remember that there are no limits to creativity. How do you like to be creative?