lightbulb burning against sky

Creativity

What, exactly, is creativity?

For many, it’s a synonym for pure imagination. It isn’t enough to make things; they have to be things no one has thought of or made before. If it’s not brand new, then it’s not creative.

I think that sells people short.

As the old saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun.

Everything we have is built from other ideas. We recombine. We build on the ideas of those who have gone before us, or on the ideas we had ourselves last week. We see what others have done, and we take those things farther, into unexplored territory.

Unexplored, not never-existed-until-now new. The seeds of the new idea were contained in the old one, back into the dawn of time.

Thinking of creation as the act of making something entirely new has the effect of making most people feel like they aren’t creative. It relegates “creativity” to the realm of the “gifted few” and not something most people can approach.

I think that nothing is farther from the truth.

Almost all of us are creators. We create things, every minute of every day. We create friendships. We create meals. We create safe spaces to live in. We create homes, and clothing, and gardens. We create jokes, and quilts, and music.

We create messes, and problems, and enemies, too. We create wars, and famines, and systems of government that oppress people.

We can’t help it. Wherever we go, we create things all around us. Very few of us manage to simply eat, sleep, and exist in places that others have created, never making anything of our own, not even relationships.

We create our own environment, and then we create stories about what we have created, and why.

It’s just the way we are.


Image attributions; my original art, sky photographed long ago, lightbulb made and rendered using MODO just this morning.

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