A Gathering Voices post by Lynne M. Baab
Last week I wrote about creativity at midlife, and I mentioned the kinds of creativity that seem fairly obvious: drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, woodworking, gardening, home decorating, journaling, writing poetry, making jewelry, etc. Today I want to argue that there are many, many forms of creativity beyond that list.
More than a decade ago, when I used to do consulting about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a common question people would ask me was this: Which personality types are more creative? Which types are less creative? Part of the motivation for that question seemed to be that some people wanted to be let off the hook in the area of creativity. They seemed to want to view their personality type as a reason why they weren’t creative.
I looked around online at various definitions of creativity and found them wildly diverse. Perhaps even creative. I liked wikipedia’s definition the best because it emphasized two aspects of creativity: something new that has value.
If I kiss my husband on the eyebrow or pair purple socks with red pants, and I’ve never done those things before, they’re new for me. And if I give value to those actions (perhaps because I want to shower my husband with affection in a variety of ways and because I want to look like a six-year-old girl in my clothing choices), then the actions are both new and have value. Therefore they are creative.
Maybe this sounds ridiculous.
But does a creative act have to have value to someone other than the person doing it?
Back when people used to ask me questions about creativity and personality type, I sensed some desperation and frustration in their questions, as if they felt they just didn’t measure up on the creativity index. They seemed to want some sort of absolution about the fact that they weren’t creative. Instead, I tried to say to them that so many human actions can be creative. Widen your perspective on creativity, I said.
Why does creativity matter? We are created in the image of a rational, relational and creative God. When I was a young adult, the rationality of God was emphasized as the key factor of the image of God reflected in humans. In the past two decades there’s been an explosion of interest in the relational Trinity, encouraging us to view love, compassion and community as essential aspects of human life, because of our creation in the image of a relational God. This is a significant and wonderful development.
But let’s not forget that we were created the image of the God who created everything. Being creative in small things as well as big things is one of the joys of life. And for those who don’t paint, write poetry or fiction, scrapbook, or garden, there are still many arenas of everyday life where we can choose to exercise a few moments of creativity. Cook something new for dinner. Arrange your books or photos in a different way. Get some flowers and put them in a container you’ve never before used for flowers. Hug your child or grandchild in a new way. And while you do it, feel your partnership with the God who flung the stars into space and painted tropical fish such extravagant colors.