I believe in the power of creativity. It is our unlimited ability to envision that which does not yet exist that distinguishes us from all other creatures.
We Americans are proud of our creativity as a nation and as a culture. Surely it is what drives our market economy and technical invention. But it is individual creativity that gives us far more than the next widget, and defines the way we interact with our families, our communities, our environment at every scale, every level.
I am blessed to have had many opportunities to express my artistic creativity in both my career and personal life. I wish I had a nickel for each time someone had said to me, “ I wish I were as creative as you are.” That comment leaves me sadly shaking my head, and I respond: “You ARE creative. You just don’t know it.” What a shame that our culture manages to rob people of confidence in their own creative instincts and abilities! Why on earth would we undermine something intrinsic to our nature?
For creativity is in every soul. Our creative urges may result in beautiful cakes or in beautiful moments. We express our creativity in the way we craft a sentence, or a decorate a home, or play an instrument. We bring it to the strategy we use to score a goal or solve a problem, and to the means we use to entice a child to read or a spouse to fix the faucet. We use our imagination to envision, and then our creativity to bring that vision forward into the real.
Perhaps it is because we all have creativity that it is so undervalued. But it is such a great gift. Yes, we may see glimpses of creativity in other species, but the human being is the only one whose survival is dependent upon his creative powers. Upon ensuring our survival, we set forth to embellish upon the basics in innumerable ways. How many kinds of food, shelter, and clothing have we created through the centuries? And when the basics have been secured, we alone of all creatures continue to create. We create to solve a problem, to communicate an idea, to help others. We create things simply because they are beautiful or for the sheer pleasure of creation and call it “Art.”
To recognize and value creativity, in all its forms, is to celebrate humanity. For it is in our creative endeavors that we shape our fragile, confusing, and intimidating world into one that sustains us in body and spirit. Life isn’t easy. It aggravates us with personal everyday challenges and frightens us with global timeless ones. The beauty of these challenges is that they fuel our urge to make something “be” that has not been before. Creating is inherently hopeful and invigorating. My creativity—and yours– keeps us alive both in fact and in spirit.