By Jean Henry Mead
While I was growing up during the dark ages, if someone said you were creative, they meant you were strange. Or different from the norm, whatever that is. On the other hand, people admired the creativity of artists and writers who dared to be irreverent. They were what author Nancy Slonim Aronie called “tapped by the goddess of artistic sensibilities.”
I’ve always wondered whether writers were born to be writers and telemarketers were born to perversely make phone calls during dinner. We’re all born with innate talents that are creative in their own way. Florists are creative in their arrangements as are plumbers who create unusual designs that hopefully don’t leak. And I’ve always admired the creative talents of wedding cake designers and chefs who garnish their gourmet dishes with sprigs of parsley and mounds of berries and glorious whipped cream.
Aronie says, “Creativity is your soul expressing itself. Creativity is a continuing process. And process and souls expressing themselves have nothing do with selling or reviews or results or commercial success. They have everything to do with taking chances, being honest, letting us experiment with what feels right, letting ourselves make—as Annie Lamott puts it in Bird by Bird—'[lousy] first drafts.' This brainstorming of the gut will nourish your innards.”
Aronie’s creativity exercise is an interesting one. She basically says to allow yourself 30 minutes to decide which ordinary thing you’ll turn into something extraordinary. Then write about it. “What was the experience like for you? How will you remember it? How will you change the channel from ‘what a drag’ to ‘what a joy?’”
Some of the exercises she suggests are:
~Clean the hydrator in the refrigerator.
~Match all the socks in the sock drawer.
~Throw out all the stretched–out underwear that you never wear.
~Organize your videotapes.
~Rip pages from a magazine and make a collage that says ‘I’m creative’.
~Add a plant to your work area.
~Make an exotic mushroom sandwich on toasted country French bread. Serve it on your nicest plate with yellow and orange nasturtium.
~Put a love note under someone’s pillow.
Most of these things fall under the dreaded category of “Housework,” and I can think of better things to do with the little time I have to be creative, although I have to admit that her suggestions are challenging.
Aronie has taught a workshop, telling students that “creativity is maintaining the balance between the heart and the mind, the dedication to the moment and the ability to stand by and surrender and let the stuff flow through.”
I hope that’s what I’ve been doing . . .