I’ve blogged before about creativity; I consider creative thought and expression to be of high value and usefulness. It is something I want to foster with my life and habits, and to encourage those I know to pursue their own creative endeavors.

I’ve described creativity very loosely, as any type of artistic expression. Drawing, Music, writing, sewing, dance—all these are easily identifiable as creative expression.

But as I thought about it, I realize that those ART categories are not the only way people are creative. I have known a lot of folks who considered their computer programs as a creative expression, and I can agree with them. Computer science, Mathematics, chemistry, and other sciences can be a framework to express creative minds.

In fact, many of these sciences rely on the creativity of their practitioners to directly improve the products and services used every day.

So, maybe creativity is not what I really mean.

If I use a pattern from Butterick, and create a poodle skirt for a Halloween costume, that is being creative. But I didn’t really create anything new.

And if I play a popular song on my piano, I haven’t really created anything new.

Not really. A little bit, I guess. Because I took an old favorite and made it my own. But I didn’t add much.

But if I sat at my piano and wrote a whole new song, that would be quite creative. That would be original.

I think that originality is the highest pursuit of creativity.

It is SO exciting to come upon an original idea. I know that one of the things I love so much about going to school was encountering new ideas. Even when they are not original, they are new to ME.

I never learned to play it cool in the classroom..I am the girl sitting in the front row that raises her hand and makes the point the teacher was just about to make before he can make it.

The teacher is droning …”And so, this leads to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which says…”

Me: “You mean everything in the universe is tending towards entropy?”


Teacher: “Why yes, thank you…”

Sometimes, I would connect the dots long before the teacher got to them. I would have figured out what he was about to teach, maybe a week in advance. I would be all excited, thinking I had understood something in a new way that no one had ever seen before.

But then we would get to that part of the chapter, and I would discover that my incredible new theory about the universe was already fully articulated by the ancient Greeks.

It sort of let the air out of the balloon. I was thinking I was brilliant and original, possibly a hidden genius for my great idea! But everyone else in the world already knew it.

What can you do?

I would often go to talk to my teachers about some idea I had, and they would always say, “Have you read this particular book? The author talks about that theory you are discussing.”

It makes me wonder if I have any original ideas at all. Apparently, all the licenses on original thought are sold.

But it also doesn’t take very much originality to go very very far. If one person comes up with a new idea, a TON of people are right there to copy it in a million different ways.

I mean, look at fashion. The fashions always seem to be regurgitations of the previous fashions from a respectful distance in the past.

Some major designer comes out with his or her expensivoso designs, based on older designs by some previous expensivoso. Then those are instantly snapped up by all the knock-off designers who make clothes for Target and Wal-Mart and K-Mart and all the other places.

There maybe have been, like, 5 grams of creativity in the entire fall clothing lines of the entire United States of America. Do you see what I mean? A little creativity goes a long way.

Also, creativity doesn’t usually happen in large amounts. I don’t know why, maybe it just doesn’t work like that. But most original ideas are simply a rearrangement of ideas already lying around.

The printing press, that boost-us-out-of-the-dark-ages device, was really thrown together out of ideas that had been used for the whole darn dark ages anyway.

But it did open people’s minds. Rearranging what has been there all along, and juxtapositioning things that had never been together before is enlightening.

Kind of like the fashion of the 70’s, which we seem to be reliving…free your mind:
Red and Pink CAN go together!

Baby steps, my friends…Our minds open slowly.

Very slowly. We don’t move even incrementally towards new ideas. I think it’s more like fractions of increments towards new ideas.

Some though, have minds set to be open. The really creative ones, they have their minds ajar, as it were.

That’s how I would like to be. Always open to new ideas.

At the same time, there is the fear, a real fear…At what point does the mind’s door become unhinged?

It’s well known that genius is close kin to madness.

Daily life rewards routine and patterns. Step outside of the pattern, and people will be bothered by the asymmetry.

But maybe some, maybe just enough, would be delighted.

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