Friday, September 14, 2012

Day-to-day Creativity

Nasturtiums are everywhere, growing weedlike on river banks, in fields, and anywhere else that'll have them. Noah has to fill vases with them every day. He has to get his fix. Better than licking doorknobs, I suppose.
I'm not a crafty person, and I wouldn't describe myself as "creative", but right now I'm inspired by the idea of creativity. 

For a long time I thought of creativity in terms of artistic talent.  Yet rather than just being about working with our hands or creating beautiful things, creativity is about our innate human desire to create- to bring new worlds to life. It's juxtaposed with our destructive bits, not with our less creative bits. In these terms, our words or actions can create or destroy. I was always taught this as a child, but the emphasis tended to be on trying to avoid being destructive rather than thinking through what would create, or build up.

It is perhaps a reflection of the entitlement of my generation that I have to create meaning in cleaning. Or perhaps previous generations found similar meaning? Over the past couple of weeks, I've found cooking and cleaning to be creative. Cleaning (and often, cooking) tends to fall under the category of drudgery in our household. As drudgery, it must be equally shared for peace to rule in our house. As drudgery, there is always simmering anger against those who produce more stuff to clean. As drudgery, it's at most a sacrificial act. As drudgery, we do just enough to stay healthy and pass muster with visitors. As drudgery, it is something that I must endure to get to the stuff I was created to do, the things I dream of and hope for the world and so on. 

Yet as a creative action, cleaning is a means of creating beauty in our midst: It was dirty, now it is clean. It is part of what I was created to do. Yes, I was born to clean my house. Those big dreams I have never involve cleaning but they also never involve a dirty house. So my big dreams must somehow include cleaning. Perhaps it is all just mental gymnastics, but it feels different to value cleaning as a creative act. It is creative to restore our house from something run down and under-valued to its former glory, to strip away many years of neglect. To see something beautiful and try to somehow reveal it- to ourselves and others.

In these terms, it is no longer therapeutic to get things ready-made or buy cookie-cutter solutions to our problems. It is less attractive to buy more time to work. The day-to-day stuff are full of creative opportunities, and they keep my paid work grounded in meaningful reality. I want to affirm your creativity in the mundane. I used to think creativity was Da Vinci, but now I think it's every tree we plant, every plant we water, every attempt we make to help our children grow into great men and women, every time we try to fry an egg well or wash our plate after we use it.

I've been saving the yellow string from the big bags of oranges, and making these driftwood and shell creations with Noah. It's the closest I'll probably ever get to crafts.

An extraneous 11 seconds on Noah drumming, because it's nothing if not creative.
video
Noah is drumming to the soundtrack for the week in our house,  from "Fun", a group we discovered while watching the Amazon Kindle announcement. We're not so creative to shun the great minimalist capitalist invention of the kindle.

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