Saturday, April 19

What is creative?

If someone says, "I’m not creative" what do they mean? Is it that they were hopeless at art when at school, or maybe they can’t play an instrument, or their cooking is awful? Whatever the excuse, I know that we’re all creative in some way or another.

Try asking yourself what being creative really means? We might say that creativity is about making new connections between people - purely and simply.

A piece of art transfers an idea or an emotion from one person to another, it changes that person’s state of mind. A poem communicates a thought which goes beyond the words on the page, it may allow that person to see the world differently. A meal enables people to gather round a table and talk freely, perhaps begin a new relationship. So in all these cases it’s not so much the craft, but the idea, the insight, the desire for a new relationship which is the creative heart of these activities.

Could it be that creativity is not about the activity of painting, cooking, talking, but more importantly about the ideas and relationships they support?

Seeing creativity as making new connections between people - promoting a flow of ideas from one to another, frees us up to think about creativity in so many more ways. Every choice, every action can be a creative act. There are endless possibilities whatever you think about your own abilities.

Even a poor painting can get people talking. A poem written by a child may not be technically good, but it can stir the heart is ways many respected works may not. Disastrous cooking may provide a talking point for many years (I know from experience).

So when we say, "I’m not creative" are we confusing craft for creativity? If creativity is about making new connections between people being creative should come from a passion for ideas, for building surprising relationships and for moving people from one place to another.

It’s not too difficult to see that God himself was the supreme example of creativity - forging new connections and a new relationship with us through Christ.

Here’s a poem written by John Latham

‘How much sky is there
in the whole world?’

I could answer that:
give the atmospheric mass
number of its molecules
the global area
the rate at which it thins
outwards towards the sun.

But as I look into his eyes
huge, open to the sky,
galactic deep
reaching far beyond the sun
I shake my head
tell him I don’t know.


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