Can You Forget How?

SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE SENT ME THIS LINK and recommendation for an article at called: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.

Already I'm skeptical and I haven't even read it. I doubt that the article was written by a creative person, because creative people are unlikely to allow themselves to be constrained by a numbered list.

Okay, now I've read it. My skepticism holds, although it is an interesting article, worth the time.

I also Googled "characteristics of creative people" and got over 38 million results. Many of the hits were things like: 5 Signs, 9 Traits, 10 Reasons; stuff like that; more lists; more skepticism.

One thing the Huffington Post article acknowledges right away is just how hard it is to nail down Creativity.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don't have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.

"It's actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self," Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. "The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self ... Imaginative people have messier minds."

He's right. At least for me. I don't know whether I'm creative or not. I do know this: I value creativity highly. I love the creative process. I love the outcomes of the process. I love the surprises that come along the way. I also know this: I want to help create environments where creativity can thrive. To borrow Jesus' metaphor of good dirt, I would like to prepare fertile ground for seeds of creativity to be planted.

Karlee-The-Creative. Our oldest Grand-Girl. (Photo by her Daddy because she's too young for selfies, thank God)

Karlee-The-Creative. Our oldest Grand-Girl. (Photo by her Daddy because she's too young for selfies, thank God)

I consider one of the highest callings of being "Pops"--to provide the Grand-Girls with opportunities for creative play, to fantasize, to make-believe, to have a place where they can be "outside the box." Certainly I want to honor the wishes of their parents, but I believe it is my prerogative, yea, even responsibility to say, "Sure, you can try to climb that." "Go ahead and poke it and see what happens." "Yes, you can wear that shirt with those pants." "Taste it and see." Shouldn't every kid have a place where the first line is always: "Once upon a time there were two Grand-Girls and a third on the way..."

Back to the Huffington Post article, I won't list all "18" because: one, you should read the article for yourself; and two, I'm so rebellious I believe there are at least 19 and probably more. But I'll list a few because I want to comment on them:

- They daydream. Guilty. I wrote a post on this subject called ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION

- They observe everything. I like to think I do. Sometimes it's a curse though. For example, no matter where I go, I can't help straightening people's pictures for them, thinking, "How do they not see how crooked these are?"

- They take time for solitude. I am a certified Introvert. I am energized by solitude. For me the issue is taking time for social-tude. (I made that up.) This quote from Wendell Berry rings very true to me: "I'm a writer more than I am a talker."

- They seek out new experiences. Yep

- They ask the big questions. I sort-of attacked a guy in our own house a few years back because he implied that I had accepted a Christian worldview hook, line & sinker, no questions asked. How dare him. I'm old enough to be a grandfather and I'm still asking the big questions. 

- They people-watch. One of the things I enjoy most.

- They take risks. Not as much as I once did.

- They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression. Why wouldn't you?

- They follow their true passions. Why live if you don't?!

- They surround themselves with beauty. As long as you define beauty as that which is true, good, whole, just and rehumanizing. AND aesthetically wonderful of course.

- They constantly shake things up. I hope so.

As my friend Mako Fujimura explained: We are created in the image of God, and the first thing we know about God is that He is a creator.

So, everyone has the capacity for creativity and are probably way more creative than they give themselves credit for. You've probably heard the story of the college art professor who was asked by her four-year old daughter, "Mommy what do you do?" The mother, wanting to answer in terms her daughter could grasp, replied, "I teach people how to draw and paint." The clear, honest, apropos reply from her little creative girl, "Did they forget how?"

It has been reported that if you ask a room full of kindergarteners, "How many of your are artists?" the entire room will raise their hands. Ask a classroom full of adults, fewer than 10% will. I know Creativity extends beyond artists, but the question is still:

Have we forgotten how to be creative?