Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple
In my last column, I wrote about what creativity is and where it comes from. I based my comments on Jonah Lehrer’s research for his book, Imagine. His book shared his theories about creativity and relayed brief examples of creative minds at work.
In a summer book project at Woodward Library in Le Roy, participants are encouraged to read books in various categories. One is music. I discovered Bob Dylan’s autobiography, Chronicles and Woody Guthrie’s Bound for Glory. I hoped to get a better sense of what happened in these two creative minds during their prolific years.
Dylan’s narrative followed Lehrer’s steps. He initially wandered about the country meeting quite a range of entertainers, mostly musicians. He absorbed their adventures, musings and creative experimentation. In the meantime, he struggled to find his own voice and finally did. His story is not presented chronologically or coherently. Instead it often reads like lyrics from his songs. I felt like I was in his head.
Woody Guthrie shares his adventures growing up, riding in boxcars, and also wandering the country learning what he could about people and their lives and sharing his music as he went along. He tells stories of the people he met and the influences on his life and music.
I recall times from my life journey when I felt bound for glory and also times when I was blowin’ in the wind. Sometimes my creative urges kept me awake at night until I honored them and sometimes I wondered when I would ever have another creative thought. Dylan and Guthrie both had times when they struggled and times when they rode the crest of creative inspiration.
When I started writing this column ten years ago, I thought that I might have enough ideas to write for about a year or so. Now, I still find topics to write about. I do not always know from week to week what my topic will be but something always emerges to trigger a creative response.
I have learned that I cannot force creative ideas to appear. I can read, listen and be open to the experiences which pass my way each day. Everything that happens around me can become grist for the mill of my mind if I remember to stop and pay attention. I can reflect on my experiences and on those of people in my life. My creativity sparks to life while pondering the connections between my experiences and my reactions to them.
My creative ideas have not brought me fame like Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie or many other artists who have inspired me. Yet fame is not what it is all about. Bob’s and Woody’s music helped them make sense of the world in which they lived. While I still find life full of mysteries, the sense I have made of it has come though creative outlets I have discovered.
Life Lab Lessons
- Take some time to appreciate creative efforts of others.
- Reflect on your own creative efforts.
- What can you learn from each experience?
- What parts of life remains a mystery for you?
- Use your creativity to make sense of them.