I’d like to go back to that original dictionary definition of Creativity I used when refocusing this blog, particularly one aspect of it:
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination…
That’s a mouthful and one could spend a great deal of time and energy just pulling it apart and trying to find personal meaning inside of it. Not that I think such a concerted effort would be a waste of all that time and energy. Far from it. However, I’d like to concentrate on one particular word within that definition. That is the word transcend. It means to be moved, lifted up and out of the norm and the limits and boundaries that are part and parcel of normal everyday living.
For me, that is a gift I give myself. One I feel I have earned by simply continuing to breathe. The normal routine can get tired very fast. It can become a burden, a heavy piece of baggage dragged around with little hope of cutting its bonds. The transcendence, I find, in creative activity is a gift I choose to give to myself. A small vacation from that baggage and burden.
It is a small thoughtful time of emotional and mental pleasure I have earned by staying inside those limits of normalcy. What’s more, it is most often during those times of transcendence, that I sort of stumble onto ways and means of lightening that heavy burden, and that allow me to get back to that very pleasant vacation type experience.
It has been said that too much routine makes Jack a very dull boy. Dull, because he can’t lift himself up, move himself out of the routine. Can’t find or even recognize anything new or different. With his nose to the grindstone, he simply can’t see all of life that is happening around him, let alone partake in it. He is far too busy being dull, normal.
And yes, ultimately Jack may accomplish whatever goal he has set for himself, but one wonders if he’ll even know that when it happens. And should he manage to comprehend his own success, does that mean his life is over and stops at that point?
Jack might see anything that distracts him from his chosen goal as no more than playing. Something only children do. Yet, children learn and grow because of that play activity and we can learn a great deal from their endeavors. Playing takes imagination and a certain attitude toward risk and experimentation that Jack might never allow himself to venture into, thus never allowing himself to transcend for even one moment.
That is Jack’s choice, but certainly not mine. I don’t like dull. I prefer bright, strange new colors and combinations. Words that act like carrots leading me into new paths and ideas. Take the word transcend, for instance. It isn’t a word I normally use in all of this writing I do. It sounds sort of spiritual, metaphysical, philosophical, and other things of that sort. Yet, when I went back and looked at that definition, it is the one word that jumped out at me. The one word that spoke of movement, of lightness, and thus, of creativity as I know it.
Which brings me to the reality that although I see and find creativity to be a vital part of everyday existence and a very practical means for allowing me to move through that existence, it is all of those other things as well. It is a spiritual experience, in that it lifts my spirits to engage in such things. It is a metaphysical moment because it takes me outside of the norm of my physical and momentary existence, and it is often philosophical in nature because I find that in that other realm, I am often confronted with those big questions of “Who Am I”, and “What Am I Doing Here?”
I could be Jack, I guess, plodding my way, head down, eyes aimed only at that dangling carrot in front of me, moving toward whatever goal I may have set for myself. I’m fairly certain however, that I would hate that sort of existence. I much prefer being me and doing what I do: giving myself those carrots (gifts) that keep me moving and evolving. Carrots, by the way, that I alone know are going to get me moving and keep me doing just that.
I do have goals, but I also have a feeling that they are far different and far more varied than that single-minded pursuit that Jack is involved in. If I’m honest, there are moments when I not only admire his stick-to-itiveness, but even envy it. However, those moments are short-lived and usually result in another carrot gift that needs to be opened and chewed on immediately.
What’s more, I think that Jack, in his single-minded pursuit would probably see me as no more than a distracting butterfly, flitting somewhat aimlessly about the landscape. Wouldn’t he be surprised to know that we have far more in common than meets the eye?
We both have goals, both pursue them in our own fashion, and could probably learn a thing or two from one another. I could teach him about giving himself those gifts that lift his spirits and enable him to continue with a lighter load. While he could teach me to finish the task at hand before setting off on another.
In doing that we would allow ourselves to transcend our ordinary existence, even perhaps, find new and different paths to travel and explore that would allow each of us to grow and become more than we were. Who knows? I might like some of Jack’s carrots and he might do the same with mine. And together, we might find a creative solution that goes beyond the norm of traditional rules and patterns.
I think that in allowing myself to play with this single word, I have given myself a transcendent moment. I have enriched my own personal meanings of that quoted definition. That isn’t what I set out to do, but I’m smiling and my spirits are certainly lifted.
How about you? Got any carrots?