Are you creative?

Of course you are! And so is your square suburban-dwelling boss, your hairdresser, your dentist, your cab driver, your mailman, etc.

“Creative” has become such an overused buzzword everywhere you turn. It seems everyone, these days, either is it, wants to be it, or thinks they’re it. Every business wants to tack the word on to its name somewhere. Everybody seems to want to be employed in a creative field or have “creative” be part of their title or department. There are Creative Technologies, creative caterers, as well as a meetup group for Creative Coders, the list goes on.

But is everyone good at being creative? Should everyone be? Don’t we also need a little bit more of the left-brained people? You know the engineers, scientists, mathematicians and such. And when did everyone start placing such a high value on creativity? Was this always the case or is it just the culture in New York or modern society or … something?

I don’t have the answer. I’m just hypothesizing here. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve all been so carefully siloed away into boring 9 to 5 cubicle jobs that we need to direct our creative impulses somewhere else. I know people who work in finance who have bands on the side. I know lawyers who DJ and record music. I know doctors who paint. And it seems everyone, no matter their occupation, is doing “professional photography” on the side (quotes because I don’t even know what professional means at this juncture).

So this is a good thing, right? The more creativity, the better? But if everyone is creative, or wants to be, or is allowed to be, doesn’t that also create mediocrity? You’ve seen the crap they call modern art in museums these days, right? I have no idea how some of it gets in there. I wonder who is blowing whom to get things like plastic representations of food, garage sales of a bunch of hipster-looking clothing, tin cans with holes in them and paintings of black squares (Hi, Malevich!) into museums.

And what is creative at the end of the day? People most commonly associate it with the arts: music, painting, photography, writing, etc. But at its most basic definition creative is just about finding another way of doing, thinking about or expressing something. You could be mining for coal, for example, and get stuck at a certain point, but then find another way around it. That’s creative, is suppose.

And here’s a definition from dictionary.com:

 cre·a·tive

[kree-ey-tiv]  Show IPA

adjective

1. having the quality or power of creating.

2. resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.;imaginative: creative writing.

3. originative; productive (usually followed by of  ).

4. Facetious. using or creating exaggerated or skewed data, information, etc.: creative bookkeeping.

Love that last bit! See, you can even be a creative bookkeeper!

But yes, in its most basic form, creative is just about bringing something new and original to the table, it doesn’t have to be art… .it could be anything. But I wonder how much potential for originality there is out there. The human race has been around for tens of thousands of years, and it’s created many things in those years, so I wonder what’s left. If you travel, read a lot and are curious about history, you’ll often find that the ideas, lifestyles or mediums you think are new have already been done somewhere else before. Maybe in a slightly different form, but it’s existed in another country, another civilization, another century.

Many of my friends are super gung-ho about polyamory, for example, but it’s not new. The word/terminology is just new. Some form of open relationships has existed for centuries. In royal and imperial France everyone obviously had mistresses and lovers on the side of their arranged marriages, for example.

My friend Rosalind often notes this phenomenon and asks people “why do you think you’re doing something different?” when it’s likely all been done before.

My friend Matt also often says that, “No one’s ever had an original idea in their lives.” And, yet, we persevere. Everyone wants or tries to be creative. There is that inexhaustible human drive to come up with something new and it seems we’re all afflicted by it.

And so, I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis:

“No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth you will become original without ever having noticed it.”

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One thought on “Are you creative?

  1. I think your more inclusive definition of creativity is the better one: “finding another way of doing, thinking about or expressing something”. This means that engineers, scientists, mathematicians and such are very much to be considered creative. Not to keep make space-related pop culture references, but look at the events of the Apollo 13 mission. The astronauts were saved because the engineers and scientists looked at the existing circumstances and found a different way to do things; that is, they were creative.

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